It is perhaps the eighth wonder of our world that despite modern mapping and satellite photography our planet continues to surprise us. Hidden lairs beneath layers of rock, forgotten cities rising out of deserted lands and even mankind’s own feats of engineering eccentricity lie in the most unusual of destinations. Travis Elborough goes in search of the obscure and bizarre, the beautiful and estranged. Taking in the defiant relics of ancient cities such as Ani, a once thriving metropolis lost to conquered lands, and the church tower of San Juan Parangaricuto, that miraculously stands as the sole survivor of a town sunk by lava. Through the labyrinths of Berlin and Beijing — underground realms dug for refuge, espionage and even, as Canada’s Moose Jaw, used as the playground for gangsters trading liquor and money over cards. Never forgetting the freaks and wonders of nature’s own unusual masterpieces: the magical underground river shaped like a dragon’s mouth in the Philippines and the floating world of Palmerston. With beautiful maps and stunning photography illustrating each destination, Atlas of Improbable Places is a fascinating voyage to the world’s most incredible destinations. As the Island of Dolls and the hauntingly titled Door to Hell — an inextinguishable fire pit – attest, mystery is never far away. The truths and myths behind their creation are as varied as the destinations themselves. Standing as symbols of worship, testaments to kingships or even the strange and wonderful traditions of old and new, these curious places are not just extraordinary sights but reflections on man’s own relationship with the world around us.