Curious & wondrous places

There are some of the curious and wondrous places that should be visited.  Some of them are so exotic!



DHEE AYN, as it is also known AQABAT al-BAHA, is a village of slate houses, built on a white marble outcrop.  It is visible for several kilometres, as one approaches the village.  Even from a distance, the place can easily be located by the white glow that surrounds it.  The houses of the village itself is not made of marble, but of flake stones and slate.  The village got its moniker “MARBLE VILLAGE, for the rocky outcrop it is built upon.
The outcrop is a gleaming rocky hill of white marble, which stands in sharp contrast to the greyish-dark slates with which the houses are constructed.  The grey mountains that tower behind the outcrop and the green fields in the foreground add to the shining marble that forms a foundation for the village.
 Even the road that leads to the village is “impressive”, and several historical stone and slate QASABA TOWERS (qasaba =traditional) dot the way.  This Aqabat al-Baha Province is known as the region of 1001 towers, once built to protect villages, roads and plantations from rival tribes.
Today, these QASABA TOWERS are abandoned, and many of them are partially or completely in ruins.  The 400-year-old village was also abandoned around 30-40 years ago, which makes the village even more atmospheric.  Visitors should be extremely careful when wandering around, as many of the structures are dilapidated and in a serious state of decay.  Some of the weaker structures have already collapsed under the onslaught of natural forces and 400 years time.


Here are the world’s only known “docile crocodiles”.  It is said that the souls of the dead have made these crocodiles “shockingly docile”.  Along Ghana’s northern border, many villages are inside of crocodiles.  No, luckily the people of these villages have not been eaten, the creatures simply hold their souls.


In the town of Paga, nestled right up against Burkina Faso, is a sacred crocodile pond.  High profile deaths, in the community, have even coincided with the deaths of some of the ‘sacred crocodiles’.  Ancestors’ souls or not, the crocodiles of the sacred pond in Paga are protected and allegedly as safe as any domesticated pet.  The residents of Paga certainly treat them as such, regularly interacting with the 110 crocodiles in the main crocodile sanctuary—–CHIEF’S POND.
What’s even more stunning, no one has ever been harmed by any of the crocodiles.  Young children swim in the pond and the people of Ghana along with tourists, are invited to touch and practically play with the crocodiles.
Even more remarkable than the “docile nature’ of the crocodile population, is how these massive creatures made the pond their home.  The pond is completely land-locked and, apparently, the oldest crocodiles, are over 80 years old.  Yet, here they are ready and waiting for tourists to feed them live chicken, sit on them or lift their spiny tails.
Crocodiles have been on earth for over 200 million years.  Moreover, their behaviour in Paga is without comparison.  For the legions of tourists, seeking a wild Africa, full of the most impressive and dangerous beasts, Paga is a good start to their journey.  A small fee has to be given to the local tour guide for interpretation and the purchase of the crocodiles’ live chicken dinner.
A formerly opulent village, it is now a crumbling ghost town that no one really knows what to do with.
The small village of Leri Cavour changed hands a number of times during its centuries’ worth of history.  Today, it seems that no one wants to take responsibility for the once-promising community and so, its stately buildings are simply falling into decay.


It has long been an exemplar of agricultural growth.  Having been the site of a religious order as far back as the 15th century, the land was used to grow grain and other crops as the farmers’ processes evolved.  The rural production thrived until the land was acquired by Napoleon, who then sold it off to help pay a debt, which is how it found itself in the hands of the Marquis Michele Benso di Cavour, whose name would be added to the town that later sprang up.


Cavour went to work updating the buildings and farming processes of the land, establishing Leri Cavour Proper, including an intricately decorated mansion.  The town became a state-of-the-art farming community by the mid-1880s.  Unfortunately, this was not to last, as stewardship of the land was passed around between a number of people, which proved too much for the town to survive.  By the late 1960s, Leri Cavour was abandoned.
Despite a number of proposals as to what to do with the land, on which a number of the former town’s buildings still stand. Leri Cavour remains abandoned today.  Most of the structures have been looted and damaged, including the former Cavour Estate.  The empty town feels eerie and the nearby nuclear cooling towers, that now dominate the skyline in the area, make it seem all the more “apocalyptic”.
MAISON SANS ESCALIER (The House Without Stairs), Saint-Etienne, France
An “architectural oddity” of 6 floors, accessed by “graceful ramps”.
Nothing seems to distinguish the 2 buildings situated on the 54 & 56 Boulevard Daguerre that seem to blend in the urban landscape of Saint-Etienne.  But the 2 constructions known as “LES CHALETS de BIZILLON” hide an architectural “curiosity”  ——a HELICOIDAL (gently sloping ramp) serving the 6 floors, elevating its spiral as a mezzanine around a decorative garden on the 1st floor.


Auguste Bossu is the inspired architect who designed his 1st project, envisioning stairs as a totally “archaic”, out -of-date form.  In a very passionate pamphlet, to describe his very intriguing, yet humanist architectural conception, he said : “The House Without Stairs ——– The House Of The Future.  Stairs are the most barbarian way of climbing.  Steps impose the same walking pace to everybody : to children and elderly, to sick and healthy people.  With the “sloped ramp” one can walk the way he needs —— long or short steps, fast or slow like on a street pavement.”


This “iconic Helix”, changing a rough climb into an architectonic stroll, also attests to the ingenuity and freedom of the creativity of France in-between War eras.  Its dizzy aesthetic inspired Frank Llyod Wright when he was conceiving the very famous Guggenheim Museum in 1959.


2 thoughts on “Curious & wondrous places

  1. My husband and I plan to build a small (>2000 sq ft) forever house which will allow us to “age in place”. Our lot is on a flat mountaintop with 360 degree views so we want lots of glass and covered porches for outdoor living. Information about use of helicoidals in residences would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

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