10 Amazing Hidden Histories from the World’s Most Famous Places

by Shivam Khandelwal3 years ago

6 During the Second World War, the Allies learned that the Germans were using the Leaning Tower of Pisa as an observation post. Therefore, a US Army Sergeant was sent there to confirm the presence of German troops. The soldier was so impressed by the tower’s beauty that he decided not to order an artillery attack on it.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
Leaning Tower of Pisa

It was the ending period of the Second World War when the American soldiers were marching towards the Tower of Pisa. The final two and a half miles proved deadly for them. More soldiers died and the wounded ones kept accumulating in the mud.

The Americans were confused about how the Germans were so accurate in such flat and coastal terrain. They examined every spot that could be a vantage point except for the 185-foot-high monument.

Colonel Woods ordered Leon Weckstein, a 24-year-old infantryman, to execute the dangerous mission. He was handed a radioman and asked to get as close as possible to the tower and confirm the German’s presence.

Weckstein reached near the tower crawling and scanned the monument for enemies. He was hypnotized by its grace and beauty and decided not to call for the attack, even if he was asked to. He retreated back to his lines with the radioman when the Nazis started raining down shells.

After reporting, the generals decided to spare the tower. (Source)


7 To misguide the Japanese and German bombers, the Taj Mahal was disguised with a huge scaffold. The monument looked like a stockpile of bamboo, and the idea worked. The same trick was repeated again in 1971 during the Indo-Pakistan War.

Protective scaffolding over the Taj Mahal
Protective scaffolding over the Taj Mahal. Image credits: John Atherton/Wikimedia

There were no GPS services or satellite imaging techniques during the Second World War. The British speculated that the Taj Mahal would be a vulnerable target for Luftwaffe bombers. So, they used the bamboo scaffolding on its dome in 1942.

The enemy pilots would think of it as a mere pile of bamboo and wouldn’t think of dropping bombs on it.

The monument was thus spared and invited no attacks during the entire Second World War. This was not the last time when the monument was a vulnerable target for attackers and was spared despite that.

The same bamboo deception was used again during the Indo-Pakistan war between 1965 and 1971. This time too, the structure survived all attacks of its enemies.

The Taj Mahal is probably India’s biggest tourist attraction that invites visitors from all over the world. (Source)


8 The Gateway Arch has a hidden time capsule that holds a fascinating piece of residential history. The capsule was placed on top of the arch on 28 October 1965, and it holds 762,000 signatures. The list is not public and the capsule is permanently welded inside the arch. It is said that the capsule is not going to be revealed as long as the structure stands.

The Gateway Arch
The Gateway Arch

The 630-foot Gateway Arch at St. Louis, Missouri is the world’s tallest arch. It’s been a popular tourist destination since its construction, which was finished in 1965.

The weighted steel catenary arch was designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen.

The presence of the time capsule remained a secret until its workers revealed it. People visited the monument during its construction and aftermath, but the piece of history at the top remained unraveled.

The men claimed that the capsule consists of more than 700,000 signatures of the citizens of St. Louis. From these thousands of signatures, schoolchildren of St. Louis signed 1,500 of them.

The capsule was placed just before the monument’s opening ceremony. The ceremony was first scheduled for 18 October, however, its construction wasn’t finished.

The ceremony was then rescheduled to the 28th. The capsule containing 762,000 signatures was welded into the keystone between these 10 days. (1, 2)


9 The crack in the liberty bell is intentional. In 1840, a narrow split appeared on the bell after its approximately 90 years of use. The repair work was initiated in 1846, but the repair workers spread the crack further. They assured that they were using a technique called “stop drilling” to restore the bell’s tone. Unfortunately, the attempt resulted in a second crack, which silenced the bell forever.

Liberty bell
Liberty bell

The bell weighs 2,080 pounds and measures 12 feet in circumference. It arrived in Philadelphia in August 1752 and was rung on the first public hearing of the Declaration of Independence.

There are multiple theories on how the first crack appeared on the bell. However, official city records state that it was damaged in 1846. The incident took place when the state’s mayor ordered the bell to be rung on George Washington’s birthday.

After this small damage, the repair workers inadvertently widened this crack.

On observing the bell, one can notice that the bell has 40 drillbit marks, the product of the “stop drilling” technique.

It is also said that no individual living today has heard the sound of the bell. (1, 2)


10 During the late 1990s, a man was studying the underground chambers of the Colosseum. He discovered patterns of holes, notches, and grooves in the walls. After connecting the dots of the negative space, it was concluded that a system of elevators had been used to transport wild animals and scenery to the main floor.


The Colosseum is an ancient, iconic structure of Rome. Heinz-Jurgen Beste of the German Archaeological Institution was the one to make the discovery.

The Italian officials of archaeology and culture have confirmed that the undergrounds structure resembled a lift and trapdoor system. It was used to transport deadly beasts from dens under the monument to the main arena.  

Further investigation disclosed 24 to 28 such lifts, each constructed to lift 600 pounds of weight. The total capacity is equivalent to 56 lions.

Beste is convinced that there were several stage managers appointed to call out cues. The cues would have suggested the quantity and timing of the animals they should set free.

The findings have proved a precursor to surprising theory and practices at the Colosseum in the past. PBS has also created a documentary on the subject naming, “Colosseum: Roman Death Trap.” (Source)

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