In the sixth episode of Mysteries of the Abandoned this season, the producers have saved some of the most intriguing sites for last. Each location is unique but has a fascinating story associated with it, and we not only get one, but two local guides with very personal connections to their sites. Plus, I get both my favorite and least favorite experts to weigh in on the history behind each place!
Location 1 – Berlin, Germany
In a shocking twist, there are no direct connections to Nazis in this episode, but there is the next closest thing – the Soviet Stasi. The experts detail the history of the splitting of Germany and how the Stasi sought to control their people’s information.
With huge networks of spies, they built vast files on every single citizen in East Germany and all this was centered here, in the headquarters of the Stasi in Berlin. The local guide is a man named Peter, who was imprisoned and tortured in this location when he tried to escape to the West. This location also features an intense twist at the end.
Location 2 – San Francisco Meir Island, Dry Dock #1
This location has been critical to the West Coast for over a century, beginning during the 1800s. Built as the first naval station to provide needed defense during the California Gold Rush, it was a critical asset during both World Wars. Used to repair ships, it set a record in shipbuilding during World War I and came into even more prominence during Word War II as a major space in the Pacific Theater. The sheer size of the site was very impressive to see.
Location 3 – Baia, Bay of Naples, Italy
What might be the oldest location covered on MOTA is located under the sister volcano of Mt. Vesuvius. A system of tunnels and waterways connected to ruins above, the site was left abandoned for over 2,000 years. An amateur archeologist discovered the site, and uncovered what was a spa town used by the Roman elite, frequented by figures like Caesar and Cicero.
Below the spa in the tunnels was a more mysterious space. Next to an underwater river that might have fit into the legend of the River Styx, a priestess would use the fumes from the nearby volcano to go into a trance to tell the future. It’s now open to the public and is added to my list of places to visit that this series has revealed to me.
Location 4 – Gulf of Nakoia, Coasta Rica, Isla San Lucas prison
The final location in the episode is also the most tragic – Isla San Lucas, the prison island of Costa Rica. The local guide here was a former inmate and one of the most intense details he describes is how the prisoners had machetes, which they used during bloody fights. The prison was severely overcrowded, with inmates as young as 14 years old. The guide described being punished by being locked in a dungeon full of raw sewage. The site is now a part of a national wildlife preserve, so at least its future will be happier.
AiPT! Science is co-presented by AiPT! Comics and the New York City Skeptics.