artist of the day#32: Falco (Oberto Airaudi)

If I, or most people were to guess what a 57 year old, Italian, insurance agent does in his free time, building what is often referred to as the 8th wonder of the world would probably be pretty far down on the list. The creation now called the Temples of Damanhur are based on visions the lead artist had as a child. Oberto Airaudi, or as he likes to be called, Falco describes these visions as though they came from a past life. Feeling like it was his purpose in his life to build these structures, Falco located the perfect spot in 1978 to start his dream. He bought a house at the top of the sight with a group of like-minded friends and got to work underground, digging into the mountain below. Over the next 16 years, Falco and his friends were joined by volunteers from all over the planet to work on his vision. By 1991 the temple which was 100 feet below public view, consisted of nine chambers complete with stunning chambers, elaborate mosaics, and stained glass windows occupying more than 30,000 square feet. Big Ben occupies 15,000. This whole time, the entire project was a complete secret to the rest of the world.

First suspicion arose when police investigated the home due to accounts of tax evasion. A year later, rumors spread far enough and the police demanded to see the temples. They certainly did not expect what they found. Temporarily the temples were seized by the Italian government, but soon enough retrospective permission was granted, and they were asked to finish what they started. The Temples of Damanhur, named after the ancient subterranean Egyptian temple meaning the City of Light, were not designed in any religious context. They were built to narrate human history. Various chambers in the structure represent different cultures throughout time. To this day, few have been granted permission to see this marvel and it is unsure of what its future holds.

Many are shocked by how a man could be possessed to take on such a task on his own. When asked about what he hoped to accomplish, Falco has the following to say. “They are to remind people that we are all capable of much more than we realize and that hidden treasures can be found within every one of us once you know how to access them.”