Hidden Secrets of Famous Landmarks: 50 Fascinating Facts

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41 Secrets of Hanging Gardens

Secrets of Hanging Gardens

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are often cited as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. However, there is no definitive archaeological evidence of their existence, and they may in fact be purely mythical. Interestingly, even if the gardens did exist, they were likely located 300 miles north of Babylon in Nineveh, according to an Oxford-based historian.


42 Hollywood Sign’s Secrets

Hollywood Sign's Secrets

The “Hollywood” sign, which has become an iconic symbol of the entertainment industry, was originally intended to be a temporary advertisement for a real estate development known as “Hollywoodland.” Despite its intended temporary status, the sign became so popular that it was made a permanent fixture in the Los Angeles landscape. The sign was lit by thousands of light bulbs in the 1920s, and a man lived in a small cabin near the sign to change the burnt-out bulbs. However, the sign fell into disrepair and was ultimately torn down for three months in 1978. Playboy’s Hugh Hefner helped fund its restoration with a $250,000 fundraising campaign, and he later donated $900,000 to save it again in 2010.


43 Secrets of Palace of Parliament

Secrets of Palace of Parliament

The Parliament building in Bucharest is an impressive structure that contains both the lower and upper houses of parliament, as well as three museums and an international conference center. Despite its numerous occupants, 70% of the building remains empty. The building is also the heaviest in the world, weighing in at nearly 4.1 billion kilograms (nearly 9 billion pounds), and is the most expensive government building, valued at around $3.4 billion. However, with its massive size comes a hefty heating and electrical bill of $6 million annually. The building sinks by 6 mm each year due to its weight, and it also contains eight underground levels, including a nuclear bunker linked to the main state institutions by 20 km of catacombs.


44 Secrets of Tokyo Imperial Palace

Secrets of Tokyo Imperial Palace

The Tokyo Imperial Palace grounds have an interesting history. During the 1980s Japanese property bubble, the palace grounds were believed to be worth more than all of the real estate in California. However, the palace also has a darker past. In 1945, several Japanese officers occupied the palace in an attempted coup to prevent the Emperor from surrendering to the Allies. The officers murdered several people, but their plot ultimately failed, and they committed suicide.


45 Lascaux Cave’s Secrets

Lascaux Cave's Secrets

The Lascaux cave is an incredible archaeological site discovered accidentally by four teenagers and their dog. Inside, there are 17,000-year-old paintings of extinct animals like the aurochs as well as handprints. Interestingly, the earliest known maps of the stars, dating back to 16,500 BC, have been found on the cave walls. However, visitors to the cave today cannot see the genuine, 17,000-year-old art, as it has been replaced with a replica to protect the originals from damage caused by tourist traffic.


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46 Secrets of National Mall

Secrets of National Mall

The National Mall in Washington, DC, has served several purposes throughout history. During World War 1 and World War 2, it was used for temporary war department offices and munition buildings until the Pentagon was finished. The “temporary” buildings were not fully demolished until 1970, and in the 1970s, the area was also used as a parking lot.


47 Secrets of Notre Dame’s Fire

Secrets of Notre Dame's Fire

The firefighters who responded to the 2019 fire at Notre Dame had a protocol in place for rescuing works of art, allowing them to prioritize and rescue them in a particular order. After the fire, a 700-year-old lead sarcophagus was discovered beneath the cathedral’s floor, and it was opened in 2022.


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48 St. Catherine’s Monastery’s Secret

St. Catherine's Monastery's Secret

Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt is home to the world’s oldest continuously operating library, built in the 550s AD by order of Emperor Justinian I. It houses one of the largest collections of early Christian icons, including the earliest known depiction of Jesus as “Christ Pantocrator.” The library also received a letter from the Islamic prophet Muhammad, stating, “This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. “


49 Secrets of Padmanabhaswamy Temple

Secrets of Padmanabhaswamy Temple

In 2011, a team of experts explored the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in India and discovered $22 billion worth of valuables inside five out of six known vaults. The contents of the sixth vault, Vault B, remain unknown and sealed shut under the order of the Supreme Court. In April 2014, two more subterranean vaults were discovered and named G and H, adding to the temple’s architectural wonder. Interestingly, the sun goes down along the middle portion of the gopuram of Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple on the eve of the equinox.


50 Sumela Monastery’s Secret

Sumela Monastery's Secret

The Sumela Monastery, which was built in the 300s, is an incredible feat of architecture as it was constructed nearly 4,000 feet up the side of a cliff. Over the centuries, it was destroyed and rebuilt several times, particularly during the Byzantine Era. Unfortunately, it was left empty and abandoned in the 1920s. However, in recent times, it has been taken over by the Turkish government and restored for tourism purposes.


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