5 U.S. Cities Stuck in Time



5 U.S. Cities Stuck in Time

Some cities are immune to change. These places make time travel feel possible, offering glimpses back into different eras. From historic cities with cobblestone streets to ghost towns that can’t seem to move forward, here are five U.S. cities stuck in time.

New Bedford, Massachusetts

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In 1765, a Quaker merchant named Joseph Rotch identified New Bedford, Massachusetts, as a prime location for his business. Located along the Atlantic Coast, with a deep harbor and easy access to Boston and New York, he believed New Bedford to be the perfect candidate for a top-notch whaling port. Rotch was correct in his assertion — during the 19th century, this Massachusetts city became the whaling capital of the world. New Bedford is still known today as The Whaling City and its identity is entwined with the million-dollar industry that once profited from its shores.  From the mansions built by the captains of industry on County Street to the flagged bluestone sidewalks, much of the city is unchanged from when it was first built.

Inquisitive visitors should stop at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. And although whaling is no longer permitted, the citizens of New Bedford still make their living on the water, with commercial fishing as one of the top sources of income.

Pacifica, California

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Pacifica, California, is a mere 10 miles from San Francisco, yet it feels a world away. A beachside haven that has changed little since its incorporation, this foggy surf town is surrounded by two sections of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Pacifica was originally formed in 1957 when officials merged nine different communities to create one larger city. Although city planners envisioned growing Pacifica to 100,000 residents, these lofty plans never came to fruition. Much of the surrounding area became preserved land during the 1970s, which protected it from the rampant development happening elsewhere in the state. The result? Pacifica remains much the same as it was when it was incorporated, with stunning beaches perfect for surfing and acres of pristine public lands.

Some change, however, has found its way into this picturesque beach side community. In the past couple of years, new plans have been passed to turn Palmetto Avenue into a downtown area, making it more appealing to visitors and residents alike.

St. Augustine, Florida

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The oldest continually occupied city in the U.S., St. Augustine, Florida, was first established by Spanish settlers in 1565. Today, remnants of Spanish culture remain untouched in this historical gem of a city. From Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, a 330-year old fortress built by the Spanish, to the well-preserved Plaza de Constitucion, visiting St. Augustine is like stepping back into the well of history. The Colonial Quarter harkens back to the days when Spanish was spoken on the cobblestone streets, including live black smith and musket demonstrations.

St. Augustine’s most famous piece of architecture, however, is the Lightner Museum. Originally built as the Alcazar Hotel in 1888, the establishment closed during the Depression; it was later bought and renovated by Otto Lightner in 1948. Today, the restored museum includes memorabilia from the Gilded Age, in addition to rotating art exhibits.

Galena, Illinois

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Although it is commonly referred to as “The City That Time Forgot,” considering Galena a “city” is a bit of a stretch. For all intents and purposes, however, this well-preserved gem has rightfully earned its place on this list. Once the busiest port on the Mississippi River, Galena became a mining town in the mid-1800s when a lead ore mineral called “galena” was found in the surrounding area. The newly born city, named for the mineral that put it on the map, eventually became a political, industrial and cultural hub. Abraham Lincoln gave a speech from the second-floor balcony of a Galena hotel and even Ulysses S. Grant called it home for a spell.

Today, the town holds the magic of yesteryear, with its immaculate Victorian homes and brick architecture on Main Street. The city also draws scores of tourists looking to grasp onto the charms of days gone by, and with its working blacksmith shop and many historical sites, this feat is easily achieved.

Detroit, Michigan

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Detroit, Michigan, truly looks like a city frozen in time — but which time exactly? When Michigan Central Station opened in 1913, the train station was a shining example of Beaux-Arts Classical architecture and the tallest train station in the world. But when the station closed in 1988, it stood vacant for 30 years, a sad reminder of Motor City’s former glory. In an effort to move Detroit forward, Ford bought the train station last year, with plans to revitalize the building and bring the workforce back to the area. Still, the city is often referred to as a ghost town, with its fleeing population, abandoned homes and empty skyscrapers. In this sense, Detroit seems to be stuck in the early aughts, as it certainly hasn’t made any large strides since the collapse of the auto industry. With dreams of Detroit’s revival on the horizon, this is one city we hope isn’t stuck in time forever.

5 most bizarre Greek myths about animals



5 most bizarre Greek myths about animals

There are numerous myths, legends, and folk stories surrounding the history of Ancient Greece. Greek mythology is renowned for its bizarre creatures, powerful Gods, and epic battles—though some of these tales are stranger than others. While most of us are familiar with the stories of the “classic” monsters — the Hydra, the Minotaur, the snake-haired Medusa — there are plenty of other bizarre beasts populating these Greek stories.

The Nemean Lion

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One of the mythological creatures on this list, the Nemean Lion was a gigantic beast, armed with razor-sharp claws and adorned in golden fur said to be impervious to mortal weapons.

This seeming-immortality was put to the test when Greek hero Heracles was ordered to slay the Nemean Lion as the first of his 12 famous Labors. As the story goes, Heracles attempted to shoot the lion with arrows before realizing that its fur was impenetrable. When this didn’t work, Heracles took a different approach. Different versions of the tale offer two possible outcomes:

  • Heracles shot an arrow into the lion’s unprotected mouth, killing it instantly.
  • Heracles used rocks to trap the lion in its den and proceeded to grapple with it by hand, eventually using his godlike strength to strangle the beast to death.

The Stymphalian Birds

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Denizens of the ancient Greek city of Stymphalia, these monstrous birds were pets of Artemis, the Greek Goddess of the hunt. According to the story, the Stymphalian Birds had beaks made of bronze that were strong enough to pierce the iron plate of Greek armor. Their feathers were supposedly made of metal, used as projectile weapons that could be launched at victims, and their dung was toxic to mortals.

Again, Heracles was set to the task of eradicating these creatures as the sixth of his 12 Labors. However, Heracles didn’t do it alone. With the help of Greek Gods Athena and Hephaestus, and using the poisonous blood of the already-slain Hydra, Heracles was able to rustle the birds from their nest and shoot them down with his toxic arrows. And though many of the birds escaped the purge (later to encounter Jason and the Argonauts), Heracles was able to accomplish his task.


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We’ve all heard of Pegasus: The majestic winged stallion that Poseidon created from the magical blood of the slain Medusa.

In texts, Pegasus was a valuable ally to Poseidon’s son, Bellerophon, in his epic battle against the Chimaera, and later, the Amazons. Bellerophon shortly thereafter met his end (he fell off Pegasus while trying to ascend to Mt. Olympus), and Pegasus would join the pantheon of the immortals in service to Zeus, who charged the stallion with carrying his thunderbolts into battle. Eventually, Pegasus would be immortalized as the constellation that shares his name.

Pegasus is one of the most popular icons for in Greek Mythology, with frequent depiction on coins, in sculpture, pottery, and other artistic works. More than many other Greek creatures, Pegasus has become ingrained in Western culture, so much so that the word “Pegasus” now refers to both the mythological figure and the entire species of winged horses that we often see in fantasy stories.

The Mares of Diomedes

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Marking another of Heracles’ legendary Labors, (most of which involved mythic animals in some way), his eighth task was to recapture the lost Mares of King Diomedes.

The only problem? The horses were consumed by madness, trained to eat human flesh instead of regular feed and even thought to breathe fire. Though the story differs amongst versions, it’s generally accepted that Heracles was able to calm the horses enough to be tamed and kill the mad king Diomedes of Thrace, leaving Heracles free to rescue the horses and complete his task.


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Carcinus played an important role in Heracles’ battle against the Hydra. Not in favor of Heracles, of course — Carcinus is yet another mythical creature sent by the Gods to kill Heracles. And while the Hydra is certainly the headliner in that battle, the crab Carcinus fought bravely against the Greek hero, despite the fact that Carcinus had no impenetrable fur, fire breath, or toxic dung. So says the text:

“Then a giant crab (karkinos) came along to help the Hydra, and bit Herakles on the foot. For this he killed the crab.”

Yes, brave Carcinus did not last long. However, the Goddess Hera (who hated Heracles, incidentally) was moved by the crab’s bravery, and immortalized him as the constellation Cancer (pictured above).

Bizarre Greek Animals

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Yes, Greek mythology is full of strange tales and bizarre creatures. But that’s what makes the stories so much fun. The fantastical elements, epic poetry, and otherworldly monsters have captured the imaginations of cultures across the world. And given that these are just a few examples of the strange and bizarre Greek creatures that exist, it’s not hard to see why.

3 Facts About the 3 Biggest Islands in the Caribbean



3 Facts About the 3 Biggest Islands in the Caribbean

Did you know that there are more than 7,000 islands in the Caribbean? While many of these islands are quite small, plenty of them are large enough to be home to millions of residents.

Take, for instance, three of the biggest islands in the Caribbean: Cuba, Hispaniola and Jamaica. While they all call the Caribbean home, each of these islands has a unique character and culture. Ready to be amazed? Read on to learn three fascinating facts about the Caribbean’s biggest islands.

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Cuba Isn’t Just A Single Island

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Cuba, or as it is properly called, the Republic of Cuba, is the largest island in the Caribbean, with a landmass of over 42,000 square miles. It has the largest population of a single country in the Caribbean, too. Cuba is home to over 11 million people.

But what you may not know is that Cuba isn’t just one island. While most people recognize the alligator-like shape of Cuba’s mainland, the country actually includes more than 4,000 small islands and cays.

Many of these islands are quite tiny. Some are home to all-inclusive resorts and others are uninhabited, but some of them are quite respectable in size. For instance, Isla de la Juventud, Cuba’s second-largest island, measures a little over 900 square miles, and has a population of about 100,000.

Hispaniola: Two Countries, One Island

Map of the island of Hispaniola split between Haiti and the Dominican Republic
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Hispaniola is the second-largest island in the Caribbean. It has a landmass of over 29,000 square miles and a population of more than 20 million.

But if it’s so big, why is it that so many people have never heard of it? That’s because the island of Hispaniola actually includes two countries: Haiti and the Dominican Republic. While most people are familiar with these names, it’s not as well known that the island spanning both of them is called Hispaniola.

While these two countries are locked together by land, they are very different. The Dominican Republic is far wealthier, with a robust tourism economy and several world-renowned resorts. Haiti, on the other hand, has significant poverty issues and is not as popular for tourists.

Sugarcane Is Not Indigenous to Jamaica

Photo of a sugarcane field at sunset
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Jamaica is the third-largest island in the Caribbean by landmass, spanning over 4,200 square miles. This makes it slightly larger than the next-biggest island, Puerto Rico, which measures in at about 3,500 square miles. However, in terms of population density, Puerto Rico is slightly larger, with a population of about 3.25 million as opposed to Jamaica’s at about 2.9 million.

When you think of Jamaica’s most significant crops, you probably think of sugarcane, which is key to making the country’s famous rum. But did you know that sugarcane is not indigenous to Jamaica?

The original residents of Jamaica, the Arawak Indians, grew things like cassava, corn and yams. But when Spanish settlers came through in 1510, they brought sugarcane with them.

Along with the sugarcane, they also brought the custom of slavery. Thousands of Africans were imported to the island to work on sugarcane and tobacco plantations. When the British took over Jamaica, agriculture became the island’s main economy.

While slavery was later abolished, the tradition of agriculture has remained strong in Jamaica. Agriculture is one of the main economies on the island, with the sugar industry being the oldest continuously-run operation on the island.

How’s That For Some Tropical Trivia?

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The Caribbean may be one large tropical region, but the area’s biggest islands are all quite different from one another. While they may share similar climates and geography, there’s still plenty of economic and cultural diversity among these tropical destinations.

Is quicksand actually a real thing?



Is quicksand actually a real thing?

You’ve watched cartoon characters sink into it, seen depictions of it on the Silver Screen, and may have even heard a tale or two about it, but is quicksand even real? Maybe it’s not something you’ve ever considered, but there is a real possibility that the notion of quicksand was a fictional creation. Even if you’ve heard stories about run-ins with it, have you ever met somebody who’s actually come face to face with quicksand?

Since it’s likely a question that’s been burning a hole in your mind, it seems appropriate to answer the question once and for all: Is quicksand a real thing?

Does quicksand exist?

Park ranger waist deep in quicksand
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The short answer is: yes. While it may sound like the creation of a science-fiction writer, quicksand is absolutely real. Just as depicted in the movies, quicksand appears to have a solid state, but when touched, turns into a gelatinous liquid that can trap a person. Though it has the word “sand” in its name, quicksand is not just an unstable patch of solid granules. It’s a non-Newtonian liquid, meaning it doesn’t follow the characteristics of Newton’s Law of Viscosity.

While composed of sand, quicksand’s qualities are due to the 30% to 70% of air found between each grain. There is another component to the unusual formation, however, that helps give it that thick consistency.

It’s more than just sand

Water running through a landscape of sand
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Along with the air-filled space, quicksand is comprised of a third component — water. Since there is such a space between the grains of sand, when there is a vibration or added weight, they become unstable. With these disturbances, water separates from the grains, causing the liquid-like consistency. As it loses viscosity, the patch of quicksand becomes unable to hold up any weight. Anything that crosses it, from a small animal to a human, will start to sink.

Quicksand is often depicted as a death trap, but with the proper reaction, getting caught in it is not a dooming scenario.

Escaping quicksand

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When a living organism gets caught in quicksand, its gut reaction is panic. Even humans, who can more readily process what’s happening to them, will struggle against the downward force of sinking.

Rather than struggle, a victim of quicksand should stick to calm movements. The slower they move, the less viscous the quicksand will get. With the sinking slowed, rather than try to pull themselves out, the individual should spread their arms and legs to increase surface area. An increased surface area will cause them to float.

Where does quicksand form?

Image of water collecting on sand
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Though it may sound scary, quicksand isn’t commonplace all over the world. Patches of quicksand are found near springs and riverbanks, where the motion of the water causes additional space between the grains of sand.

Desert environments can also experience quicksand, though these instances aren’t caused by water. Instead, it’s the downward motion of the wind near sand dunes that create space, leading to the viscous terrain.

A rare occurrence in nature

Young kid playing in quicksand at the beach
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While not quite the same as it’s depicted in fictional stories, quicksand does exist, though your chances of coming across a patch are incredibly low. For now, you can marvel at the oddities of quicksand from afar, popping on the occasional TV series or movie that depicts the phenomenon. At least now you can quell that lingering worry in the back of your mind that a random patch of sand may swallow you into the Earth.

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4 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About North Carolina



4 Things You Didn’t Know About North Carolina

When you think of the great state of North Carolina, chances are you think of its beautiful coastline, bustling cities, and the majestic Blue Ridge mountains.

But there’s even more to discover in this welcoming southern state, from iconic regional foods to incredible mansions and chilling historical mysteries.

Want to learn more? Here are four things you didn’t know about North Carolina.

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The Birthplace Of Both Pepsi And Krispy Kreme

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Did somebody say sugar rush? North Carolina is the birthplace of not one but two internationally beloved sugary treats: Pepsi-Cola and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

Pepsi-Cola: In 1893, a drugstore owner named Caleb Davis Bradham created what he called “Brad’s Drink,” a mixture of sugar, water, caramel, lemon oil, nutmeg, and other flavorings. It became a local favorite. The drink was later rebranded “Pepsi-Cola” and went on to become an international sensation.

Krispy Kreme: In 1933, an entrepreneur named Vernon Rudolph purchased a top-secret doughnut recipe from a New Orleans chef and set out to make some dough (pun intended). He took his recipe on the road and opened the first Krispy Kreme in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1937.

The business grew, and automating processes allowed for greater production. The business expanded, first through the Carolinas, then throughout the United States. Today, they operate locations in a variety of different countries.

America’s Biggest Mansion

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Did you know that the largest home in the U.S. is located in North Carolina? Nestled in the green, mountainous region of Asheville, the regal Biltmore Estate was built in the 1800’s by George Vanderbilt II, an heir of the famous Vanderbilt railroad family.

The incredible estate boasts a gorgeous house with 255 rooms, grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmstead (who also co-designed New York’s Central Park along with Calvert Vaux), and today, it even has a winery.

Today, the Biltmore Estate is no longer a private residence. It’s operated as a popular attraction, with guided tours, walking paths, restaurants, and regular events.

Its First Settlers Disappeared Mysteriously

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In 1587, the first English colony, Roanoke Island, was established just off the coast of what is today North Carolina. The original settlers included a group of 117 individuals, including men, women, and children.

Soon after it was established, the colony’s leader took a trip back to Britain for supplies. But what was supposed to be a short trip became extended when war broke out, and he didn’t return for three years.

When he did get back in August of 1590, things had taken a very creepy turn. All of the settlers were gone. There were no traces of the colony, its inhabitants, or what might have happened.

The only clue? The seemingly meaningless word “croatan” carved into a wooden post. To this day, this mystery has historians stumped.

The Tallest Brick Lighthouse in the United States

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While North Carolina isn’t typically associated with tall structures, it is, in fact, home to America’s tallest brick lighthouse. Completed in the early 1800’s, the black and white Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is an iconic figure for the state and often appears on the cover of trip guides and on postcards.

What you can’t tell from photos, though, is just how massive the lighthouse is: It’s 210 feet (about 19 stories) tall and offers a range of 24 nautical miles.

Sweet Carolina!

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North Carolina is home to plenty of beautiful nature, interesting history, and a lot of cool areas to visit. With its iconic architecture, legendary snack foods, and even some historical mystery and intrigue, it’s well worth your time to visit the Tar Heel State to explore!

A brief history of the California Gold Rush



A brief history of the California Gold Rush

The California Gold Rush was a defining moment for 19th century America. Most of us learned the basics of this watershed event back in school, but few of us are really familiar with the fateful events that led to one of the biggest gold rushes in world history.

How did it start?

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The California Gold Rush unofficially started in January 1848 near the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. A carpenter, James Marshall, was working on building a water-powered sawmill in the area when he happened upon a few flakes of gold trailing down the American River.

“It made my heart thump, for I was certain it was gold.” –James Marshall

This would be the first gold harvested in the Gold Rush, but it wouldn’t be long before Marshall’s discovery went public.

Within weeks of the discovery, word got out that there was gold in the hills. And while Marshall’s initial claims were met with disbelief, there were plenty of locals interested in investigating the story for themselves.

The mass migration begins

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It didn’t take long for other Californians to realize that Marshall’s claims weren’t just bluster. There was gold in the area just waiting to be claimed—and for those who got their hands on it, it offered an instant path out of poverty into the world of wealth and fortune. Naturally, this was an appealing prospect for plenty of impoverished workers.

According to reports, nearly 75 percent of male San Franciscans had left for the gold mines by June 1848, and by August, there were over 4,000 miners in the area. (Unfortunately, John Sutter—the owner of the property where Marshall initially discovered the gold—was one of the first victims of the Gold Rush. By 1852, his property had been overrun, destroyed and vandalized by so many transients that he eventually went bankrupt.)

The initial tides of fortune-seekers were from California and the surrounding areas, but once word got out, the excitement couldn’t be contained to Union borders. Miners traveled from across the world to find their fortune in California, with prospectors coming from Oregon, Mexico, Chile, Peru, and China.

It’s hard to overstate the massive population boom that occurred in the area. The non-native population of California was only 800 in early 1848; throughout the following year, the population skyrocketed to 20,000. And by the end of the following year, it reached 100,000—over 100 times as many inhabitants!

The end of the rush

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The biggest boom of prospectors came in 1849, after word of the rush had spread across the world. These so-called “forty-niners” raised the population of the region significantly, creating tough situations where small towns were overwhelmed with too many people. Crime, violence, and theft were common throughout the area, and many suffered as a result.

To make matters worse, the gold had already started to dry up by 1850. By then, most of the easily-accessible surface gold had been picked clean by the earliest prospectors, and miners were forced to work hard and dig deep to uncover even the smallest bits of gold.

Of course, this didn’t stop people from flocking to the area. Miners continued to come to California over the years, its population swelling to 300,000 by 1855. Thanks to this nonstop influx of people, and the rise of hydraulic mining equipment used by businesses to tear through the region, the Gold Rush proper was over by the end of the decade.

How much gold WAS there?

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Reports on actual gold totals vary, but historians believe that nearly $2 billion in gold was mined during the Gold Rush. At its peak in 1852, around $81 million in gold was being pulled up annually, with this total decreasing each year as the rush went on.

It sounds like a lot, but very few prospectors actually struck it rich. Most miners were poor, working-class individuals who spent what little savings they had traveling to the area, paying for lodging and buying equipment—and the majority never recouped their investment. A select few were able to achieve their dreams of striking it rich, but many more were left worse off than they were before.

Long-term impacts of the gold rush

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The California Gold Rush represented an opportunity that few could pass up: the chance to become a millionaire overnight. And while most didn’t make it, this push had some drastic long-term impacts for the region and for the Union as a whole.

The crazy economic boom caused by the Gold Rush is believed to be responsible for speeding up California’s admission to the Union in 1850. And several of its cities, such as San Francisco, became busy metropolitan areas that would remain vibrant and strong over the coming years.

Of course, it all came at a cost. Countless miners died on their journeys to California and in the dangerous gold mines. The local Native American population also suffered greatly; California’s Native population numbered around 300,000 before the rush, but within the next 20 years, over 100,000 of these people were dead due to displacement, disease, and mining-related accidents.

Like all watershed moments throughout history, the California Gold Rush brought equal parts prosperity and hardship. Its impacts can still be felt today—both in the local regions where it took place and as a cultural artifact of American history that’s fascinating to look back upon.

3 Amazing Facts About Rome You Never Knew



3 Amazing Facts About Rome You Never Knew

Rome is a city of romance and ancient ruins coexisting in the cosmopolitan chaos of a modern national capital. Vestiges of the Roman Empire’s power and building prowess, the Forum and the Colosseum, are iconic landmarks and tourism magnets. And as the acknowledged world seat of the Catholic Church, Rome’s monuments to religious wealth over the centuries, such as the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, are important religious tourism sites and shrines. With a history dating back more than 3,000 years, and the art and architecture from along the way, Rome is a museum in itself. Within all of that exist hidden and obscure bits of culture and history.

The First and Largest European University is in Rome

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Sapienza University of Rome — often also referred to as Sapienza or the University of Rome — is the city’s, and Europe’s, oldest college, established in 1303 A.D. It is the largest university in Europe, and the second largest higher-education system in the world. Specializing in aerospace engineering and scientific research, among many other disciplines, the university with more than 700 years of history today is also known for its international studies programs. Sapienza serves 112,000 students with a faculty and staff of 4,000 professors and 2,000 officials, technicians, and librarians.

Typical for ancient Roman times, the genesis of Sapienza is dramatic and controversial. It seems an early Roman with powerful ambitions, Benedetto Caetan, convinced Pope Celestino V to abdicate the papacy, then took his spot. Calling himself Pope Boniface VIII, in 1303 he promptly excommunicated King Philip IV of France in the aftermath of a religious-political power struggle. The same year, he opened Stadium Urbis, the University of Rome, outside the walls of the Vatican. Given the tumultuous times, the move didn’t alleviate all tensions, of course, but it did help set a tone for future cooperation between secular and religious scholarship.

Trevi Fountain Coins Fund the Needy

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Nearly $800,000 worth of coins are tossed into Rome’s Trevi Fountain each year. The proceeds are donated to Caritas to help those in need. Located in the Quirinale district of the city, the enormous and intricately carved fountain is made mostly of travertine. It ended up being designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi, and was subsequently completed by Giuseppe Pannini and several others. At roughly 86 meters in height and 160 feet wide, the ancient fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in the city of Rome and, arguably, the most famous public fountain in the world.

Salvi wasn’t the original architect involved with the project. Architect Alessandro Galilei, a relative of famous ancient astronomer Galileo, originally was given the commission for the fountain’s design by Pope Clemens XII in 1730. However, the announcement elicited outrage from citizens, because another top architect in contention — Salvi — was a native Roman, while Galilei was Florentine. The project was given to Salvi in part to quell the uprising.

St. Peter’s is the Biggest Church Ever

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Viewed from afar, the scale of the buildings surrounding St. Peter’s Basilica gives you an idea of its immense size, as the otherwise sizable structures are dwarfed by the gigantic church in their midst. The Italian Renaissance behemoth is one of the pre-eminent Catholic holy shrines in the world. As such, it is visited by thousands of pilgrims and tourists on a monthly basis.

You don’t have to be devout in order to be awed by the basilica’s grandeur. At 610 feet long and 150 feet high, the huge church is actually the second version. The first, which received basilica status due to its site above St. Peter’s tomb, was completed around 350 A.D. It stood for more than 1,000 years, but concerns over deterioration caused Pope Julias II to call for its demolition. Construction of the new basilica, which began in the early 1500s, took 120 years to complete. Its massive dome, some 140 feet in diameter, reaches a height of nearly 450 feet. After taking an elevator or hiking up the stairs, visitors to the dome level enjoy spectacular view of Rome and Vatican City.

Russia: 3 Stunning Buildings to See in Moscow



3 Stunning Buildings to See in Moscow

Moscow is an incredible place to visit. Russia’s capital city is full of buildings that are centuries old and that have designs that are completely unique from the rest of the world. Its historic center in particular is home to buildings that are not only spectacular to look at, but also important to the history of Russia and the rest of the world. Here is a look at three stunning buildings in Moscow that you have to check out if you visit.

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

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The first building on our itinerary is the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Not only is this huge, white building with high-rising, gold-painted domes beautiful, but it is also the tallest Christian church on the planet. It reaches heights of around 338 feet, and its main sanctuary area can fit more than 10,000 visitors. Completed in 1883, the original version of this cathedral took over 40 years to build, only to be tragically destroyed on the orders of Joseph Stalin in 1931 in his attempt to enforce atheism on the entire country. His vision was to replace the cathedral with a skyscraper dedicated to Vladimir Lenin, but construction was stalled during World War II, when the property was turned into the world’s biggest swimming pool… in which many Russian citizens drowned. Finally, in the 1990s, plans to rebuild the cathedral to its original glory were put into motion, and the breathtaking building was restored.

State Historical Museum Moscow

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Moscow’s State Historical Museum holds more than 4.5 million pieces of art and other artifacts that date back hundreds of years. It holds all aspects of Russia’s history, including manuscripts from famous leaders, records describing Russia’s adoption of Christianity and an in-depth look at how it defended itself against invaders. What makes this building truly stunning, though, is its architecture. At first glance, this towering, red, castle-like building might look intimidating, but it is actually a work of art in and of itself. Built in 1872, the museum building has elements of the luxurious, baroque style of Imperial Russia, but these are united with elements of Neo-Russian architecture, making it both appealingly sophisticated and impressively modern at the same time.

St. Basil’s Cathedral

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Taking the number one spot on our list is St. Basil’s Cathedral, located right next to the famous Red Square. This stunningly ornate structure has become symbolic of Moscow as a whole, and perhaps even the entire country of Russia. Its colorful, spiraling domes reach high into the sky, making it look like something made of gingerbread and candy toppings and draws visitors from all over the world. St. Basil’s was built in the 16th century as per the orders of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, who wanted to memorialize the capture of the city of Kazan. Inside this one cathedral are 10 separate churches, as well as another smaller chapel on the side. The interior is just as awe-inducing as its exterior, leading to it being named one of the “Seven Wonders of Russia” in 2008.

4 Ancient Cooking Devices Still Used Today



4 Ancient Cooking Devices Still Used Today

In our world of pressure cookers, smart coffee mugs, and air fryers, it’s clear that cooking technology has come a long way over the years. But then, you take a look back at how ancient civilizations cooked and you realize that, despite our modern technology, we’re still using many of the same strategies and tools that were used back in the day. In particular, these four ancient cooking devices have stood the test of time in our modern era.

Clay Cooking Pots

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This one’s more of a modern take on an old idea.

In ancient Greece, a common cooking method was to place prepared meats and vegetables in tightly-sealed ceramic pots, which were often buried in the ground underneath hot coals. The concoction would be left to cook for several hours before being served—a “low and slow” method that bears a striking similarity to one of the modern era’s favorite cooking methods: slow cooking.

It’s not hard to see the resemblance. Many slow cookers have inserts made from ceramic, porcelain, or stone, and they’re fitted with snug lids that keep the heat locked in. And rather than heating over the fire, the use of coals allowed the ingredients to cook slowly and simmer over time until they reached tender, tangy perfection—just as modern slow cookers do. And while we’ve adapted the ancient device to fit our modern sensibilities, the fundamental concept is the same.

Mortar and Pestle

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The mortar and pestle has to be one of the oldest cooking tools in recorded history, with ancient specimens found as far back as 35,000 B.C. It’s a simple device usually made from stone, bronze, ceramic, or wood, with only two components: a small bowl and a club-like tool with a rounded edge.

Most of us are familiar with how it works. The mortar and pestle was (and still is) used for grinding up spices, herbs, and seasonings, though it also saw plenty of use in medical settings. In fact, the mortar and pestle may be one of the few ancient cooking tools that modern-day chefs use exactly as it was intended. The grinding action is perfect for preparing raw herbs and hard spices in ways that knives and other cooking tools can’t manage, and given that we’re still using it thousands of years after its invention, it’s clear that it still has value in the modern era.


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Best known as our go-to tool for straining cooked noodles, sauces, and vegetables, the humble colander has a long history on the world stage. Colanders from ancient Rome and ancient Egypt sit in museums as historical artifacts, and historians believe that the straining device had a rich history of use across these cultures.

Modern colanders tend to be made from wire, plastic, or steel, but in the olden days, colanders were often cast from bronze—meaning they were reserved for the wealthy. More evidence of this comes from reports suggesting that colanders may have been used to strain and prepare wine, a luxury typically afforded to the rich.

Deep Fryer

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Yes, although fried foods have become inexorably tied to American culture, deep frying as a practice has been around for thousands of years. The practice of frying foods in oil dates back to ancient Greece and Rome, though other countries — such as Egypt and Japan — also have a substantial history of frying. Of course, they didn’t have the fryer technology we take for granted today, which is probably a good thing. Fried foods can’t be considered healthy by any stretch of the imagination, and while ancient cultures used to enjoy fried options in (relative) moderation, our modern society goes all out, frying anything and everything we can find.

Time-Tested Cooking Classics

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New cooking technology is great, but as this list shows, you just can’t beat the classics. Many of the basic cooking tools we use every day—knives, pots, ovens, skillets—have all been used for years by cultures around the world. And while our air poppers and pressure cookers have their uses, ancient cultures seemed to do just fine without them.

Why did pirates wear eye patches?



Why did pirates wear eye patches?

Whenever we picture the stereotypical pirate, he’s usually wearing a long coat or striped shirt, is bearing a cutlass, and is sporting an eye patch. While the first two are easily explained as being appropriate for the period, the eye patch is an anomaly that seems more like a modern add-on to give the customary costume a unique touch.

The truth is, however, that the eye patch was part of pirate garb, but that leaves the question as to why. It’s unlikely that so many pirates lost an eye to warrant it becoming synonymous with piracy. While it’s probable that many pirates were covering a damaged eye, there is another plausible reason that may explain why the eye patch was so prevalent out at sea.

The popularity of patches

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Buy any Halloween pirate costume and there is a very good chance an eye patch is going to be included. While it’s a staple of the iconic getup, back in the days of piracy, the eye patch was believed to have had a clear purpose.

Living with a bounty on your head and enemies at every turn, pirates needed to be ready for anything. Whether day or night, if a rival ship came too close or they happened upon a settlement worth sacking, pirates had to be ready. Come nightfall, adjusting to the shift from light to dark was essential to pillaging and plundering. To prevent the night from impeding their vision, pirates allegedly used eye patches so that they would always have one eye well-adjusted to the dark.

The importance of night vision

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According to “Scientific American,” it can take the human eye up to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness. For pirates, those 30 minutes could be the difference between being left on the ocean floor and getting a jump on incoming opposing flags.

Piracy doesn’t follow a set clock, and ships were constantly moving through the night. In the event of a confrontation, it was vital that pirates could see. On starless and moonless nights, the sea could be pitch-black. Pirates who kept one eye in the dark had an advantage over those who didn’t.

Is it plausible?

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The issue determining whether or not this reasoning is accurate is that there are no historical records to offer confirmation. There may be no evidence or pirate artifacts that support this theory, but there are real-world applications that at least give reason to believe this theory.

The team behind the “MythBusters” TV show put this idea to the test in their 2007 pirate special. Known for taking the necessary steps to create a controlled environment and mimic the original conditions, the team set up a dark room and sent in light-adjusted eyes. In the dark maze, they stumbled and had a difficult time making it to the exit.

A second dark room served as a maze for eyes that were covered for 30 minutes. This room was completed in significantly less time.

A practice beyond piracy

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To further support the notion that eye patches were used to make navigating the night easier is the fact that even the FAA recommends pilots work on their night vision. Part of the FAA Flying Handbook discusses best practices to train one’s eyes, such as avoiding sunglasses after sunset. According to the FAA, “a pilot should close one eye when using a light to preserve some degree of night vision.”

While there is a relatively long gap between the age of piracy and today, the concept remains the same. With one eye always in the dark, there is a greater chance of being able to see better regardless of how dark it might be. There may not be any solid historical evidence to support this claim, but it’s a plausible answer that gives a reason for one of life’s untold mysteries.

A historical mystery

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As cool as we may think eye patches and pirates are, it’s not enough to assume that any inference of why pirates wore them is true. While the reasoning may make sense, until some historical document or journal clearly states the purpose of eye patches, the answer will forever be an assumption.

Considering how dangerous the life of piracy was, the argument of damaged or missing eyes will always be in the shadows, as if to cast doubt on the idea that it was all about seeing in the dark.

Linda Tauhid

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