In the eastern part of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, near the town of Tinerhir, the Todra and the Dades Rivers have carved out a narrow canyon called Todra Gorge (sometimes spelled Todgha Gorge), on their final 40 kilometers through the mountains.
The gorge takes its most spectacular form about 15 km from Tinghir. Here, for about 600 meters, the canyon walls closes in to a mere 10 meters from each other, while the sheer and smooth rock walls rise up to 160 meters on each side. It is said that the gigantic rock walls magically change color as the day progresses.
At the bottom of the gorge flows an ice-cold river, which at one point of time, carried great quantities of water which is apparent from the size of the canyon that was carved out of the rocks. The river has since dried up and reduced to a tiny glacier stream. A well-maintained asphalt road leads all the way from Tinerhir to the gorge and beyond it.
Before Vlad the Impaler gained a reputation for his cruelty and might in battle—and long before he became the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula—he was a young prince held captive in a fortress in Turkey.
When Vlad was about 12 years old, he and his brother fell into the Ottoman’s hands. Some scholars credit that traumatic experience for Vlad’s later blood lust for the Ottomans and say that it perhaps triggered his sadistic tendencies—namely, impaling—later in life.
Now, archeologists in Turkey say they have found the Turkish dungeon where Vlad and his brother were first locked up.
Excavations at the ruins of Tokat Castle in northern Turkey revealed secret tunnels and two dungeons, Turkey’s Hurriet Daily News reports.
As Ibrahim Çetin, one of the archeologists behind the discovery, told Hurriet: “The castle is completely surrounded by secret tunnels. It is very mysterious.”
The Turkish archeologists say they have evidence to believe that Vlad spent time in one of those dungeons, though as Hurriet points out, they did not elaborate on the nature of that proof.
After his release, Vlad went on to fight the Ottomans for most of his adult life. In one such battle, the International Business Times reports, he supposedly impaled 20,000 defeated enemies as a show of his power and a deterrent for future attacks.
Eventually, however, the Ottomans got the upper hand. While details surrounding Vlad’s death are hazy, most scholars agree that he died in battle with the Turks.
In any event, his decapitated head was sent to Constantinople in a barrel of honey, proving that the Impaler had finally fallen—though his legendary place in popular lore had only just begun.
I stumbled across the artwork of Lea Bradovich last month, and was knocked out. Insects merged with the sumptuous details of Botticelli and other Renaissance painters! What was the inspiration for this fascinating work?
I talked to Bradovich about the motivation for her insect and bird paintings, which she’s been creating since 2004. She’s a self-described “portrait wonk” and came up with the idea of a nature allegory; the natural world expressed in headgear and clothing.
Hats in her work display life cycles, food sources, and sometimes predators. The Renaissance style of rich saturated colors and symbolic meanings seemed like a natural match: