Dylan Thuras is the cofounder and creative director of AtlasObscura.com, the encyclopedic online guide to the weirdest and most wondrous places in the world that gets more than five million visitors each month. He is also the coauthor of the #1 New York Times bestseller Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders, which has over six hundred thousand copies in print, and of The Atlas Obscura’s Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid.
His pursuit of the unusual began as a teenager, exploring abandoned buildings in the Midwest, and this pursuit eventually took him and his wife to Budapest for a year to experience Eastern Europe’s obscure and fascinating locales. But it was one memorable moment while visiting a large, baroque, and totally deserted church in Bologna, Italy, that truly informed the rest of his adventures. Dylan noticed a strange little side door and a buzzer on the wall. He rang it, the door slid open as if by magic, and he found himself face-to-face with St. Catherine of Bologna, a 500-year-old relic/mummy seated on a golden throne and surrounded by the bones of other dead saints.
“It’s always worth investigating the strange little door,” says Dylan—which may be just down the block. “It’s easy to get local’s blindness, but if you make yourself get out there, you’ll find stuff. That’s the idea behind Atlas Obscura—that within a couple of miles of you there’s probably something pretty awesome.”
In partnership with writer and fellow travel enthusiast Joshua Foer, Dylan set out to create a way for curious travelers to find the hidden wonders of the world, and in 2009, AtlasObscura.com was born, followed by Atlas Obscura (the book), which celebrates more than 700 of the strangest and most curious places in the world.
He has spoken at conferences around the world, including SXSW, Destinations International, the Circumnavigators Club, Applied Brilliance, the New Yorker Festival, Explorer’s Club, TEDxVerona, and the Congress for Curious People in Madrid, about discovery, wonder and the changing nature of travel.