There are hundreds of places in the world that are worth seeing for people interested in cryptology. This is why I have created a list of cryptographic sights. I hope, my readers can help me to extend it.

David Kahn, the father of crypto history, is usually a good person to ask if one is looking for information about classic ciphers. However, I remember one case, when he gave me a wrong answer.


When I travelled to New York City a few years ago, I arranged a meeting with David (he lives in New York). Before, I asked him: “Are there any cryptologic sights in the New York area I could visit?”, He answered: “No.”


Two cryptologic sights in New York City

A few weeks after my meeting with David (which was very interesting, by the way), I read an old Cryptologia article titled The Churchyard Ciphers. In this work two encrypted tombstones from the 18th century are described, both located near the World Trade Center in Manhattan. In my view, these tombstones are absolutely worth seeing for somebody interested in crypto history. This meant that David was wrong – cryptologic sights in the New York area do exist.


As I learned later, David did know about the two encrypted tombstones in Manhattan. He just didn’t think of them when I asked him about cryptologic sights. I was probably the first one to ask him this question.

When on my next New York trip I tried to take a look at the two encrypted tombstones, I had difficulty in finding them. They are not mentioned in the tourist guides available at the cemeteries. Even the staff persons I asked did not know what I was talking about. Apparently, it doesn’t happen very often that somebody comes to see these stony cryptograms.


A cryptologic travel guide

After I had missed the two encrypted tombstones on my New York trip, I wanted to avoid similar experiences at other places. So, I decided to set up a list of places that are interesting for a crypto enthusiast. I started, of course, with encrypted tombstones. Then I added museums exhibiting cipher equipment, crypto-related memorials, crypto-related sculptures, archives with crypto material and a few things more.

Meanwhile my crypto sights list has grown to a small cryptologic travel guide. It lists over 60 cities (from Adelaide to Zurich) along with their cryptologic sights.


Of course, the Shugborough inscription is listed, just as Bletchey Park, the Cheltenham Listening Stones, and the Cyrillic Projector. Among the museums on the list are the Deutsches Museum (Munich) and the HeinzNixdorf MuseumsForum (Paderborn).

I’m sure there are a lot more cryptologic sights than are contained in my list. If a reader knows one, I would be interested to learn.

Further reading: The NSA crypto museum asks for support: Who can solve these encrypted postcards?


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Kommentare (10)

  1. #1 Dampier
    17. Mai 2017

    Very nice idea!
    Wouldn’t it make sense to sort the places by country? Or by continent/country?
    Other ideas: an interactive map or a Google Earth overlay … ok, thats a lot of work …

  2. #2 Thomas
    17. Mai 2017

    Couldn’t find the German Spy Museum (Berlin) in your list.

    Enjoy the HCC in castle Smolenice!

  3. #3 Lercherl
    18. Mai 2017

    Including Innsbruck (Goldenes Dachl) and Klosterneuburg seems a bit arbitrary. These are just typical chronograms. There are literally thousands of chronogram inscriptions all over Europe, most of them in the former Holy Roman Empire, that is, in Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic and other countries of East and Central Europe.

  4. #4 Klaus Schmeh
    18. Mai 2017

    @Thomas: Thanks for the hint. I have added the spy museum to the list.

  5. #5 Klaus Schmeh
    18. Mai 2017

    @Lercherl: I agree, Klosterneuburg is a chronogram. It doesn’t make much sense to list all the chronograms here, as there are too many. However, the Goldenes Dachl is not a chronogram, but an unreadable inscription.

  6. #6 Lercherl
    19. Mai 2017

    @Klaus Schmeh

    Ok, I didn’t know about the Goldenes Dachl inscription. I thought you referred to the chronogram:

  7. #7 Martin
    19. Mai 2017

    Wenn ein deutschsprachiger Autor in deutschsprachigen Blogs englischsprachige Artikel schreibt, denke ich oft:
    – Er will mit seinen Englischkenntnissen beeindrucken.
    – Auf Deutsch würde der Artikel banal sein.
    – Er beherrscht die schwierige deutsche Sprache zu wenig.
    Solche Artikel lese ich grundsätzlich nicht, obschon ich das könnte. Ich wähle einen deutschsprachigen Blog, weil ich Artikel auf Deutsch lesen will.

  8. #8 Klaus Schmeh
    19. Mai 2017

    Es gibt einen weiteren Grund: Der Autor hat festgestellt, dass es auch außerhalb des deutschsprachigen Raums ein großes Interesse an seinen Themen gibt. Ich habe über drei Jahre lang auf Deutsch gebloggt und hatte es irgendwann satt, mich ständig dafür entschuldigen zu müssen, dass die meisten Interessierten meine Artikel nicht lesen konnten. Deshalb habe ich letztes Jahr umgestellt.

    Ich komme übrigens gerade von der Euro HCC in Bratislava zurück, wo ich britische, tschechische, slowakische, französische und israelische Blog-Leser getroffen habe. Sie alle finden es gut, dass ich auf Englisch blogge …

  9. #9 Roland B.
    21. Mai 2017

    Wäre dann nicht eine Veröffentlichung in der angelsächsischen Variante von scienceblog eine Chance, einen größeren Leserkreis zu finden? Wer gezielt sucht, findet den Blog natürlich, aber wer sich einfach so mal in den Wissenschaftsblog umschaut, wird ohne gute Deutschkenntnisse vermutlich hier gar nicht reinschauen.
    Optimal wäre natürlich, zweigleisig zu fahren, aber ich vermute, daß sich der Aufwand nicht lohnt.

  10. #10 Klaus Schmeh
    21. Mai 2017

    @Roland B.:
    Doch ein Umzug wäre evtl. sinnvoll. Ich habe die englische Version von Scienceblogs bereits kontaktiert, aber keine Antwort erhalten. Vielleicht versuche ich es noch einmal.