Eighth wonder of the world? The stunning temples secretly carved out below ground by 'paranormal' eccentric
by HAZEL COURTENEY - More by this author » Last updated at 09:58am on 22nd November 2007

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Nestling in the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy, 30 miles from the ancient city of Turin, lies the valley of Valchiusella. Peppered with medieval villages, the hillside scenery is certainly picturesque.

But it is deep underground, buried into the ancient rock, that the region's greatest wonders are concealed.

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Hall of the Earth: An amazing room built on the 'supernatural' visions of its creator

Here, 100ft down and hidden from public view, lies an astonishing secret - one that has drawn comparisons with the fabled city of Atlantis and has been dubbed 'the Eighth Wonder of the World' by the Italian government.

For weaving their way underneath the hillside are nine ornate temples, on five levels, whose scale and opulence take the breath away.

Constructed like a three-dimensional book, narrating the history of humanity, they are linked by hundreds of metres of richly decorated tunnels and occupy almost 300,000 cubic feet - Big Ben is 15,000 cubic feet.

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Light fantastic: The giant glass dome of the Hall of Mirrors

Few have been granted permission to see these marvels.

Indeed, the Italian government was not even aware of their existence until a few years ago.

But the 'Temples of Damanhur' are not the great legacy of some long-lost civilisation, they are the work of a 57-year-old former insurance broker from northern Italy who, inspired by a childhood vision, began digging into the rock.

It all began in the early Sixties when Oberto Airaudi was aged ten. From an early age, he claims to have experienced visions of what he believed to be a past life, in which there were amazing temples.

Around these he dreamed there lived a highly evolved community who enjoyed an idyllic existence in which all the people worked for the common good.

More bizarrely still, Oberto appeared to have had a supernatural ability: the gift of "remote viewing" - the ability to travel in his mind's eye to describe in detail the contents of any building.

"My goal was to recreate the temples from my visions," he says.

Oberto - who prefers to use the name 'Falco' - began by digging a trial hole under his parent's home to more fully understand the principals of excavation.

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Play time: Children look happy in the amazing surroundings


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Absolutely amazing. Stunning vision and creativity. Feel free to add other superlatives to describe this awesome work.