Photo tour of the creepiest churches on earth
Not every place we love always makes it into a story. The reasons are varied—a magazine page can only hold so many words, an online story can only be so long, and sometimes, even though one Budget Travel editor loves an idea, others don't agree, and it gets outvoted.
It's a treat, then, when we get to feature some of these eliminated—though worthy—spots in another venue, like our blog!
In an online story coming out next week (just in time for Easter!), we're celebrating the world's most beautiful churches in a feature story and photo slideshow. Our writer Terry Ward did a great job reporting it and came up with more than a dozen gorgeous nominations for us to consider.
One in particular, the Capuchin Crypts stood out—not so much for its beauty, but for its can't-turn-away creepiness.
The crypts are spread across a series of small chapels beneath a relatively non-descript church called the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini, in Rome, Italy.
But what makes them spine-tingling is that they're constructed from—and decorated with—the skeletal remains of 4,000 friars, who died in the 17th century. The bones are nailed to the walls and ceiling in intricate sculptural patterns, piled high in corners, and hung from the ceiling as light fixtures.
The photos of the Capuchin Crypts are incredible—but beautiful? Not necessarily. So when it came time to narrow the nominations down and select a list of the top ten most beautiful churches, the Capuchin Crypts didn't make the cut.
Enjoy this peek inside both of them via our slideshow—and be sure to look out next week for a view of the flipside, when we debut our story and slideshow of the most beautiful churches in the world!
MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL:
View endangered whales off the coast of Cape Cod this week
Those lucky enough to be in the Cape Cod area this week should hit the coast to view one of the rarest creatures on earth. In an aerial survey on Tuesday, researchers counted more than 100 individual right whales, with a preliminary count of more than 200 total. Officials estimate that this number represents a little less than half of the known North Atlantic right whale population. As an adult, the right whale, one of the rarest types of baleen whales, measures 45 to 55 feet in length and weighs up to ninety tons. It has been listed as an endangered species since 1970. The whales are attracted to the waters off the southern coast of Massachusetts because they are particularly rich in zooplankton (tiny organisms that the whales feed on) this year. A survey of zooplankton earlier in the week suggests that the whales will continue to congregate in the area for several more days, possibly even a week. The whales can be seen from the shore, and are as close as a few yards offshore to about a quarter-mile out. As a result of the whale feeding frenzy, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries has issued a warning for boaters to avoid the animals. It's against federal law for a vessel to get within 500 yards of them. Boats in the Cape Cod Bay area are advised to proceed with caution, reduce speed (less than 10 knots), and post lookouts to avoid collisions with the enormous mammals. The advisory will be lifted when the whales leave the area. Collisions with vessels are the major cause of human-induced mortality for the right whale. The whales, which practice surface and subsurface feeding, are often difficult to see, and in the past this has led to fatal injuries from collisions with boats. Anyone interested in seeing the whales can do so just by walking on the beach. The whales are gathered around Race Point, but also can been seen down to Long Point in Provincetown and inside to Truro. For more information on Right Whales, visit the Right Whale Conservation Program. — Madeline Grimes MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: 10 Natural Wonders to See Before They Disappear 14 Weird Animals You Can Travel to See Cape Cod Uncrowded
Events commemorate the Civil War's 150th anniversary throughout 2011
Battle reenactments are scheduled throughout the spring, summer, and fall, and Gettysburg hosts a 150-cannon salute at the end of April. This year marks the sesquicentennial of the beginning of the bloodiest war in American history, and events commemorating all aspects of the Civil War dot the 2011 calendar. Check out the National Park Service's Civil War page and CivilWar.org's events page for listings of notable reenactments, lectures, museum exhibits, and special tours in 2011 and beyond. The memorials really get started with a bang on April 29 to 30, when Gettysburg's Kickoff Event takes place. The highlight of the weekend occurs on Saturday, April 30, between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m., when a cannonade -- a 150-volley salute -- dominates the evening sky. Other notable 2011 events include: Various Smithsonian exhibits, including the National Museum of American history's "Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life" (closes on May 30, 2011) and the National Portrait Gallery's "150th Commemoration of The Civil War: The Death of Ellsworth" (April 29, 2011, to March 18, 2012; Ellsworth was the first Union soldier killed in the war) Sesquicentennial of the First Battle of Manassas (July 21-24, Manassas, Va., get tickets here) Reenactment of the Battle of Wilson's Creek (August 12-14, Brookline, Mo.) MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: Time Travel: Civil War Adventure Camp 8 Places Every American Should See 15 Places Kids Should See Before Turning 15: Photos
Katrina, BP: New Orleans is back
One year after the disastrous BP oil spill and nearly six years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, New Orleans reported that it welcomed more than eight million visitors last year for the first time since Katrina. In 2010, New Orleans welcomed 8.3 million visitors, who spent a total of $5.3 billion, the highest visitor spending in the city's history, according to the 2010 New Orleans Area Visitor Profile survey, conducted by the University of New Orleans Hospitality Research Center, based on responses from 5,343 people. "It is energizing to see such strong results," said Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, especially, he added, "coming out of the strong economic downturn, and on top of the difficult perception challenges created by the BP oil spill …" Following the oil spill, the New Orleans CVB received $5 million from BP to help fund a tourism marketing campaign intended to combat misperceptions and let people know they could still enjoy New Orleans despite the spill, which took place 115 miles off Louisiana's Gulf coast and never actually reached the popular tourist town. Nevertheless, people were worried about the oil slick and its impact on the region's famous seafood, seafood that is the key ingredient in local specialties such as gumbo, barbecue shrimp, fried oyster po-boys and Cajun-spiced catfish. A Katrina-hardened town determined not to be struck down yet again proactively combated the image issue, using the BP funding to run print, TV and Internet ads with slogans such as "Anyone else need a cocktail?" featuring an image of a shrimp cocktail. Whatever New Orleans is doing (whether actively or passively), it appears to be working. According to the survey, 77.7% of visitors to the Big Easy last year were there on vacation, and they spent an average of $142 per day in the city. So, who's making the trip down south? Residents from Texas, California, Florida, Mississippi and New York brought in the biggest number of visitors to NOLA. What about you? Were you nervous to go to New Orleans last year post-spill? Would you go now? What is it about the Big Easy that makes the city so special? More from Budget Travel: Where to eat and sleep in New Orleans? New Orleans Hotels 25 Reasons We Love New Orleans
26 places we'd rather be on a Wednesday
Wednesday is the hardest day of the week. It's closer to the weekend than Monday, but Saturday and Sunday seem so far away after two days in the office. That's why it's prime time for daydreaming about your next vacation. Each Wednesday we ask our Twitter followers where they would rather be (#WishfulWednesday). Your responses have inspired us so much that we decided to compile a slideshow of all of the places you're crushing on. In some cases we were even able to suggest a deal to help you get there! From Vieques, Puerto Rico (shown here) to Kerala, India—join us on a photo tour of the places where you'd rather be right now. Are you on Twitter? Follow us: @BudgetTravel MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Revealed: Nation's best coffee shops How far should the DOT go to protect travelers? Katrina, BP: New Orleans is back