Let's See Those Ancient Structures and Artifacts Hiding in Plain Sight

The world is a vastly different place than it was during the 14th-century, or the final days of the Roman empire. Today, temple and aqueduct construction projects have been replaced with highways and skyscrapers. Despite our modernization of the world, many ancient structures and artifacts still exist. However, many are now hiding in plain sight, lost amidst our modern world.

(Image: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/Public Domain)

At the intersection of Metropoleos and Pentelis streets in Athens, Greece stands a modest-looking church surrounded by the traffic of a bustling metropolis. The Agia Dynami is a 16th-century Byzantine church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was a shrine for pregnant women. During the 1950s, the Greek government attempted to obtain the land for development, however, the Greek Orthodox Church refused. Now, the church stands in stark contrast to its municipal surroundings. Upon entering the WSP office lobby in Enskede-Årsta-Vantör, Sweden, visitors come face to face with an incomplete 19th-century sconce. This small fortress was designed to protect the Swedish capital from invaders. However, as technology quickly advanced, the stone fort fell out of favor and was left incomplete. Eventually, one of its massive walls was integrated into a modern office space. Across the ocean in Mexico City, thousands of people bypass an ancient Aztec artifact probably without a second thought. On the corner between the streets of Pino Suárez and República del Salvador, a serpent-like sculpture helps support the base of a building. It’s believed that the stone was taken from an Aztec pyramid by Spanish conquistadors as a sign of triumph. These are just a few locations from across the globe where history is hiding in plain sight amidst contemporary trappings. Now we’d like to know more!

In the thread below, tell us about your favorite ancient structure or artifact hiding in plain sight. Where is it located, were you able to visit, what was it like, and what’s the history behind this place or object? How was it discovered and why is it still there? If you were able to visit, what did you take away from the trip? Be sure to include any pictures you might have as well, and drop in your Instagram handle. Your response and photo may be included in an upcoming round-up article on Atlas Obscura.


In the town of Izamal, in the famously flat state of Yucatán, Mexico, if you climb up the not-so-hidden Kinich Kakmó Maya pyramid you will notice that there are a number of small hills in sight (they unfortunately don’t show up much in pictures).
Desde la Cima by David Cabrera, en FlickrDesde la Cima1 by David Cabrera, en Flickr

Considering the flatness, they are not natural hills but rather the smaller siblings of Kinich Kakmó, Maya structures that have not yet been fully uncovered of trees and vegetation.

Kinich Kakmó is the tallest and most explored of them all, leaving the smaller ruins hidden in plain sight.

Escalera by David Cabrera, en Flickr

(pictures are mine, though I don’t have an Instagram handle so you can check out my stuff on Flickr instead.)


This reminds me of a house we have here in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Its an historic house that was forgotten in a highly business neighborhood. Its land was sold for the construction of a commercial building, and luckily the house has been saved. The building was constructed “over” the house, that can be seen under it.
Here are a few images, this is the building that houses Google HQ in Brazil



Faria Lima ! not too far off Ibapuera

This hidden little gem of a dwelling, set into a rock below the Lovrijenac fortress in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The location was used in The Game of Thrones, as part of the King’s Landing. Imagine owning your private beach with unparalleled views to the old town and the Adriatic - my dream would be to build an upper deck and use it a wine cellar; alas, no avail, since the property is owned by the city.

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Orologio ad Acqua del Pincio

Hidden in the center of Rome, inside the gardens of Villa Borghese, there is an unique, beautiful masterpiece of engineering which is often overlooked - a water clock (hydrochronometer), invented by the Dominican friar Giovanni Battista Embriaco, which is a sophisticated machine that uses water to alternatively fill two basins, giving a uniform rhythm to the ringer and pendulum. It was invented in 1867, and presented at the Universal Exposition in Paris.


The remains of the Roman Wall in London

The Romans constructed a stone wall around their port city of Londinium around AD 200, enclosing the city in its entirety (basically the Roman equivalent of the M25!). The wall was maintained until the 18th century and then allowed to fall into disrepair. Its parts can be seen today across London.

The remains of St Alphage Church and a section of the original London Wall:

The Roman fort of Londinium:

London Wall in Coopers Row:


These are all so awesome and I had no idea about them!!!1

These are all awesome! Those Roman structures are amazing they’ve survived such a long time.

So on the last day of our tour in China, we went to Suzhou, a literati water town outside of Shanghai. On the way back to our hotel, the bus pulls over. The tour guide says, “Here’s a mall if you want to get some final souvenirs to take home. We’ll have about 30 minutes. Oh, and there’s also an ancient Taoist temple in there, if you’re interested in that.”
The Xuanmiao Temple (also known as the Temple of Mystery) was built in 276 AD. It’s hard to make out in these pictures (that I got at this link. My own pictures don’t do it justice.), but this temple is one side of a mall food court. So, you see mall…shopping…mall…snacks…soup dumplings…ancient friggin’ temple. It’s really hard for me to wrap my American head around something so old being treated so blasé.


@tralfamadore hahah thats wild to see. Wonder if it was built around or transported. I know Japan has a ton of ancient buildings amidst modern trappings. One house from the Edo Period is on its way to California in the coming years. https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/japanese-house-moving-huntington-library-california

From what I’ve read, I think the temple was already there and built around. I heard about the Edo house coming to the Hungtington. The Japanese Gardens there are gorgeous and it’ll be a great addition. They already have a pristine house from 1911 on the grounds.

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I bet they are! I have to make out there to see them one day, I love the Edo Period.

Very similar fate to a slightly less ancient building in Brisbane, the School of Arts built in late C19th, a beautiful colonial structure once the pride of the city now dwarfed by modern megaliths…:confused: https://images.app.goo.gl/ikNqedtrwUzYRXBj9jpeg


The Huntingdon museum is fabulous. And don’t miss the outdoor room at the top of the hill that has amazing specimens of Bonzai trees.