The New Age Temple Under the Foothills of the Italian Alps

Bess Lovejoy

As a kid in the '60s, Italian Oberto Airaudi had a vision: A beautiful temple filled with people living in blissful harmony. In 1975, working with a network of similarly-minded followers, he began secretly digging tunnels beneath his house in a northern Italian suburb. Fifteen years later, the result was a sprawling, five-level temple complex filled with pyramids, mosaics, stained glass, gold leaf, intricate murals, and a glass dome. Supposedly, the Italian government called it the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”

As Dylan Thuras for Atlas Obscura explains in the video above, when Italian authorities found out about the project in the early 1990s, they were incensed, and eventually demanded that the temple be destroyed. But after an outcry from locals, Airaudi received retroactive permits for the buildings. Construction is still on-going, and today the temples are part of a commune called the Federation of Damanhur. You can even spend the night there. Learn more in the Atlas idea above, and check out Atlas Obscura's other 100 Wonders videos here.

Header images via Damanhur Spiritual EcoCommunity via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0