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Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is Atlas Obscura?

In an age where everything seems to have been explored and there is nothing new to be found, we celebrate a different way of looking at the world. If you're searching for miniature cities, glass flowers, books bound in human skin, gigantic flaming holes in the ground, bone churches, balancing pagodas, or homes built entirely out of paper, Atlas Obscura is where to find them.

Atlas Obscura is also a collaborative project. We depend on our community of explorers to help us discover amazing places and share them with the world. If you know of a curious place that's not already in the Atlas, let us know!

Who can add places to the Atlas?

Anyone, anywhere in the world can add a place to the Atlas. We rely upon your eyes and ears to learn about all the strange and amazing places we don't know.

How does it work, and how do I add a place to the Atlas?

Places can be added by anyone, but all contributions to the Atlas are reviewed by our Editorial Team.

Get started by creating an Atlas Obscura profile. First, click the “JOIN” link in the menu. After signing up, don't forget to add a profile photo and tell us about yourself.

To add a place, first search the Atlas to double-check that your place has not already been added. If it has and you have more to add, simply click "EDIT THIS PLACE".

To add a new place, just click here or any of the "ADD A PLACE TO THE ATLAS" links throughout the site.

What makes a good Atlas place?

We are looking for the most unusual, extraordinary, strange, secret, surprising, or otherwise amazing locales on the planet. Atlas place entries should have an element of the hidden and inspire a sense of awe and wonder—leaving you with an awestruck feeling of discovering something new.

That said, places contributions don't need to be in far away, exotic locations—we love learning about strange or interesting places hidden in someone's hometown, as long as they are the secret places that only dedicated, in-the-know locals would ever find.

Here are some good places to start:

  • Natural wonders
  • Extraordinary collections, libraries, and museums
  • Secret histories (ordinary seeming places with crazy back stories)
  • Places associated with amazing people
  • Catacombs, ossuaries, and unusual crypts or cemeteries
  • Fascinating labs and research facilities
  • Abandoned places, ghost towns, and amazing ruins
  • Mysteriously preserved bodies and dead saints
  • Outsider art, self-built castles, and crazy architecture
  • Unusual places you've been to personally

Things to avoid:

  • Things/places that no longer exist
  • Private property or illegal entry places
  • Places that are obviously in the “regular” tourist guides
  • Mundane places that are not surprising or unique

What are your photo guidelines?

We love clear, original photos of a place's unique or interesting aspects. Places must have at least one good photo in order to be published, but the more the better.

All photos submitted to the Atlas must be legally available for use. If you’ve been to the place yourself, remember to include any photos you took! Otherwise, you can look for photos licensed Creative Commons, in the public domain, or used with explicit permission of the author. Remember to credit the photographer, and include a link to the image.

Here are some places to find copyright-free photos:

  • The Creative Commons search
  • Wikimedia images
  • Flickr (filter by “Licensed for Commercial Reuse” or “US Government Works”)
  • Government websites/Public Domain
  • Google Maps or Google Earth screenshots

What makes a good photo:

  • Horizontal orientation is best
  • At least 640 pixels x 400 pixels, though bigger is always better, up to 4,000 pixels
  • Free to use under copyright
  • At least one photo is required, but aim for 5-7

If you have any further questions regarding images, please email us at places@atlasobscura.com.

How should I describe the place? 

Tell the story of the place and describe in your own words what makes it unique. What is unusual or fascinating about this place? What makes it Atlas worthy? The first paragraph will be auto-formatted to italics, so keep it short and punchy. Always lead with whatever is the absolutely most interesting thing about the place.

We want to inspire wonder and curiosity. Places should make people think “‘Wow!” and compel them to go explore. The voice should be encyclopedic yet interesting, and a little wit is always welcome.

Please do not plagiarize the information about your chosen place. We always prefer a short line about why you think the place is interesting to a huge block of text copied from Wikipedia or another existing site. Submissions containing plagiarized text will not be published.

We are a science-minded, nerdy, nature-loving, history-buffing, spiritually skeptical and slightly snarky but respectful website! Avoid listing pedantic details about a place like a textbook or sounding like a travel brochure. We are not advertising for these places, we are just explaining why they are awesome/obscure/terrifying/amazing. Quotes and eyewitness statements to history are always welcome additions. We don’t have a word count, but between 200-600 words is a great range to shoot for.

I've added a place and it hasn't appeared on the site! What's up?

There are a number of reasons why a submitted place may not have been published, the most common being simply that we haven't gotten to it yet—we often receive more entries than we can quickly edit!

All contributions to the Atlas are reviewed by our editorial team, and not every submission is guaranteed to be published. The more complete your entry is, the more likely it will be published.

Contributions with at least one good photo (either your own work or copyright-free) and a detailed description (in your own words!) will almost always take precedence. Places that are a strong fit with Atlas Obscura’s mission are also given priority.

To help speed along the publication process, you can edit and add to your submission at any time. You can find the entry on your user profile under the “Places Added” tab, then simply click “EDIT THIS PLACE.”

We do sometimes receive place contributions that are not a fit for the Atlas. Reasons include:

  • Duplicate entries, e.g. the place already exists in the Atlas
  • Places that are too obviously touristy, e.g. the Eiffel Tower
  • Unverifiable entries, e.g. your grandmother's gnome collection
  • Places that are fictional or no longer exist, e.g. Narnia or Atlantis
  • Places that are too broad, e.g. Buenos Aires
  • Places that are ads for a business, e.g. the TGI Friday's with the interesting drink special

We are always happy to discuss any questions you have, so feel to email us at places@atlasobscura.com.

I submitted my photos, but they were not used. What gives?

Common reasons for a photo not being used include:

  • The photo is too blurry
  • The photo featured too many people
  • The photo is too small
  • The photo is not of the correct location
  • We cannot find the copyright information
  • We do not have the rights to use the image
  • The photo included a watermark or visual accreditation
  • The existing photo set was adequate

Again, we are always happy to discuss any questions you have, so feel to email us at places@atlasobscura.com.

I am more interested in writing articles than place entries, how do I get involved in that?

We're always looking for submissions from freelance writers and photographers. Check out our pitch guidelines.

I have an idea for an event with Atlas Obscura. Who do I tell?

Atlas Obscura loves a party, and we're always brainstorming new event ideas. If you have any ideas for events or are a venue that would like to host an event, please contact us using this form.

I'd like to advertise on Atlas Obscura or sponsor an event. Who can I get in touch with?

That's great! Email us at ads@atlasobscura.com and we will get back to you with details shortly.

What if I have other questions?

Easy! Just contact us with this form.