In a year that seemed to deliver a lot of losses, it’s kind of nice to think that around the world, some places are coming back to us better and more beautiful than ever. Don’t you think?
Through the magic of science and labors of love, historic sites are being renovated and restored before being re-opened to the public as something old, something new, and sometimes something different altogether. Which seems like a bunch of good reasons to love 2017, after all.
#8. RAF Wainfleet Control Tower (Friskney, England)
The control tower stands watch above a 19th-century weapons range, but it was first constructed and put to use before WWII as a firing range and test site. It closed in 2010 because of funding cuts but reopened in 2017 as a vacation rental. They say the views from the top windows are spectacular.
#7. The London Mail Rail (London, England)
Mail spent decades snaking its way through London’s underground on the Post Office Railway, but it closed in 2003. This past July, it reopened as the Postal Museum, where visitors can hop aboard a miniature train for a 20-minute trip into the city’s past.
#6. Angels Flight (Los Angeles, California, USA)
The Angels Flight funicular carried millions up and down Bunker Hill between 1901 and 1969. It spent brief stints open after but struggled with safety issues until reopening on Labor Day of this year. We’ll see how long it lasts!
#5. Castle Vicens (Barcelona, Spain)
The interior of the first house ever built by architect Antoni Gaudi has been off-limits for some time, but just last month it re-opened, allowing visitors to check out 15 restored rooms, a collection of custom Gaudi furniture, and paintings by Spanish artist Francese Torrescassana i Sallares.
#4. Ryusendo Cave (Iwaizumi, Japan)
The cave is one of the largest limestone caverns in Japan, with galleries over deep lakes filled with crystal clear water. Typhoons forced the national monument to close in 2016, but as of last spring, visitors can again gawk at the wonders of nature.
#3. Temple of Mithras (London, England)
In 1954, construction workers uncovered the remains of an ancient pagan temple. It dated back to the 2nd century and belonged to the cult of Mithra, a Roman sect that mirrors, in many ways, Christian traditions. It has recently opened to the public as part of a multi-sensory exhibit.
#2. Santa’s Land (Putney, Vermont)
Santa’s Land opened in 1957, and the year-round Christmas-themed park was long a popular stop along Vermont’s historic Route 5. It stayed open 50 years before closing in 2011, but new ownership has resurrected the beloved destination, and it’s now open for business.
Fun Fact: The man who built Santa’s Land, Jack Poppele, founded one of the United States’ first radio stations and was one of the first people to broadcast on Christmas Day.
#1. The International Church of Cannabis (Denver, CO)
An early 20th-century Lutheran church was refitted as a house of worship for the followers of “Elevationism,” a new religion dedicated to the spiritual benefits of cannabis. The trippy interior clashes gaily with the old facade and you can visit – but you can’t smoke there during official business hours.
h/t: Atlas Obscura