atlas obscura newsletter

Hoax BookIn 1920, The Papalagi made shockwaves in European society. Supposedly written by a Samoan chief, the book purported to feature his thoughts on the European way of life, critiquing a society whose obsession with money had created social inequalities, abysmal working conditions, pollution, and consumerism. But in a plot twist, the true authorship of the book turns out to have been a manifestation of the very Western, colonialist culture the book was intended to criticize.READ MORE →

Trees Social Distance, TooLook up next time you’re in a forest and you might notice the phenomenon called crown shyness, which refers to the gaps that trees may maintain between their top-most branches in order to protect against natural threats. It has an uncanny similarity to the social distancing that has helped slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Can we take any lessons from the trees?READ MORE →

ALL-NEWAtlas Obscura CoursesWe’re excited to introduce our first semester of online courses! Starting this fall, our seminars and lecture series will cover a wide range of topics and skills—from the intricacies of bird identification and the art of fictional world-building, to investigating art crimes and turning kitchen scraps and foraged plants into natural dyes. Enroll now—space is limited!LEARN MORE →

AFTON, WYOMINGWorld’s Largest Elkhorn ArchStanding at 18 feet tall and 75 feet wide, the Elkhorn Arch spans all four lanes of U.S. Route 89 as the highway passes through downtown Afton. It’s composed of 3,011 intertwined elk antlers and weighs over 15 tons, but fear not: no elk were harmed in the arch’s construction.READ MORE →

Native American Seed ReunionCenturies after their loss and theft, Native American seeds are reuniting with their tribes. This is in part due to the work of the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network, a group of more than 100 tribal seed-sovereignty projects whose members are looking for their missing relatives. Their work has taken them to seed banks, university vaults, and museum shelves—all in the name of healing racist wounds inflicted on Native American food systems.READ MORE →

ATLAS OBSCURA EXPERIENCESTrivia Night is BackWelcome to the Convocation of the Atlas Obscura Guild of Trivial Knowledge and Fascinating Ephemera! Gather your family and friends tomorrow and come on by to engage in our weekly trivia night filled with wits, smarts, and educated-guessing.LEARN MORE →

CORTONA, ITALYRocca di PierleLocated on the border between Tuscany and Umbria, the eerie ruins of Pierle Castle dominate the eponymous valley and the small village gathered around its walls. In 1387, 60 conspirators and rebels against the Florentine Republic were savagely tortured and murdered inside his castle.READ MORE →

FROM THE ARCHIVESStar Wars Is RealWell, the locations, at least. To visit Luke Skywalker’s Jedi hideaway on Ahch-To, one only needs to visit the island of Skellig Michael, west of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. Here, you’ll find a building type called a clochán, or a beehive hut. These primitive stone dwellings are probably the most striking and isolated in the world. Fitting for Luke, really.READ MORE →

PUEBLO, COLORADOHeroes PlazaSince 1993, the southern Colorado city of Pueblo has been known by another name, “The Home of Heroes.” It’s the hometown of four recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor; more honorees per capita than any other city in the United States. The Medal of Honor Plaza pays homage to this honor, featuring life-sized bronze statues of all four soldiers who received the award.READ MORE →