Traveling feeds the human soul with fun-filled adventures, and numerous life lessons. It provides us a wider perspective of the world we live in. It gives us the privilege to see the world in the eyes of other people. We accept other ideas that seem to contradict our beliefs because these are valuable to other people. We should not contain ourselves to one set of values since there are other important values that we should learn from others.
Traveling also teaches us the similarities and differences of races. They share common beliefs while remaining unique and extraordinary. It is what makes them the same. It is what makes them different. These convictions set them apart from each other, but they stitch these people as well. They may have different beliefs, but the act of having them sticks people together.
Again, traveling reveals the hidden gems, several myths, and extraordinary people of different places. Their rich history that is filled with facts and legends attracts many tourists, because they want to witness them first hand. After visiting these bizarre places, these tourists turn into storytellers. They share these new details with family and friends and it carries on with other people.
This was how some towns were deemed strange and peculiar in the sense that they are not your usual cup of tea. The news spread easily because of residents and tourists. These weirdest towns are mostly found in Europe, North America, and Asia.
15. Rennes-le-Chateau, France
The town Rennes-le-Chateau in France is widely known as the inspiration of American author Dan Brown in writing his best seller, The Da Vinci Code. His book told the story of the Holy Grail that is believed to be in Rennes-le-Chateau. The Holy Grail was the blood of Christ himself, or the “royal blood”; not the subtle cup that held it. This idea originally came from the book The Holy Book and the Holy Grail by Henry Lincoln, Richard Leigh, and Michael Baigent. They presumed that Jesus escaped his deathbed on the cross and established a family with wife Mary Magdalene, and had a daughter named Sarah. They fled to France and died in Rennes-le-Chateau.
14. Supilinn, Estonia
Supilinn is the Soup Town of Tartu, Estonia. It is called the Soup Town because its streets were given names, such as Kartuli (Potato), Herne (Pea), Oa (Bean, Marja (Berry), and Meloni (Melon), which are some of the ingredients of a bowl of soup. Apart from the names of its streets, Supilinn is found near the Emajõgi river bank. The bank is usually flooded by the river every year, becoming an overflowing bowl of soup. Despite the hazards, residents still created wooden houses and small gardens near the area because of the affordable rent. Thus, until today, it is one of the last notable 19th century slums in Europe.
13. Najaf, Iraq
Najaf encloses two of the most significant sites for Shia Muslims; the tomb of Ali ibn Abi Talib (Imam Ali) and Wadi Al-Salam (Valley of Peace). Imam Ali is the founder of Shia Muslim, and the first Islamic leader. Near the site of his tomb is the Valley of Peace, wherein more than 5 million corpses are buried that include ordinary human beings and holy servants. It is assumed to be the world’s greatest cemetery, and the largest cemetery in the Muslim world. It is written that everyone who is buried there will rise from the dead with Imam Ali on the Judgement Day. Thus, Najaf is the center of pilgrimage in the Islamic world.
12. Dwarf Village, China
The residents of the Kingdom of Little People or Dwarf Village, with heights not higher than 3 feet and 10 inches, have their own myths and assumptions pertaining to their condition.
Firstly, locals were struck by a peculiar condition that distressed the growth and health of young children ages 5-7. Some say that a curse was cast upon them for not granting their ancestors a proper burial. Some also say that the horrible feng shui of the area resulted in the underdevelopment of residents. Then, there’s the black turtle curse that says that because of the greed and gluttony of the villagers on the creature, the black turtle sought revenge and plagued the future generations after being killed.
11. Hell, United States of America
There is an actual city called Hell in Michigan, United States of America (USA). There are also a few theories as to why it was named that. In the 1830s, it was described as “beautifully bright” as hell. It might also have originated from town founder George Reeves’ statement “I don’t know, you can name it Hell for all I care.” Or, from the wives of the residents’ statement “gone to Hell again” when their husbands were not home yet.
10. The Villages, United States of America
In The Villages, each residence is required to have at least one individual who is 55 years old or older. This is because it claims the title of being one of the best places to retire in the United States of America (USA), with a law that the town should be mostly occupied by ages 55+. Why is it the best place to retire? The town offers a wide variety of attractions; such as villas, town squares, tennis courts, golf courses, swimming pools, theaters, and many more. It is a private resort fit for the oldies with more than a hundred thousand residents. Yet, of course, it is quite costly to live in The Villages because an average price of a home exceeds more than 200,000 dollars.
9. Coober Pedy, Australia
Coober Pedy means “white man’s hole”, from the aboriginal term “kupa piti”. It is an underground town in Australia that started out as an opal mining operation in 1915. Thus, it is also known as the opal capital of the world.
Around 3,500 residents are too comfortable to live beneath the ground that they have established homes fearlessly. As suggested by them, the best time to visit Coober Pedy is between October and March, because the weather is neither too cold nor too hot. It is the perfect time to wander and explore the sights of Coober Pedy.
8. Battleship Island, Japan
It is never too late or too early to scare you off with a ghost story – the story of Hashima or Battleship Island in Japan. The Hashima Island bears the story of thousands of women, men, and children who were forced to work in mining areas for the development of the country. “I virtually lived a prison life on Hashima,” one of the former labourers stated. There were also a lot of labourers who died on the said island, which to no avail supports the fact that there are possible ghosts still in the area. However, it is still recognized as the UNESCO Heritage Site in 2015, as a symbol of Japan’s industrialization; even though the island is gradually crumbling.
7. Slab City, United States of America (USA)
Slab City near San Diego is the last free place in the United States of America (USA). After World War 2. The former Marine training camp called Camp Dunlap got its name from the slabs of concrete that the U.S. Military left behind.
This is the common place for Recreational Vehicles (RVs), trailers, vans, and campers to stop by. To know that you have entered the Slab City, just depend on the sight of these vehicles. This is also the typical hiding place for drug addicts, criminals, nomads, and hobos, yet only about 200 people regard it as home.
6. Longyearbyen, Norway
If you are about to die, do not plan on visiting or inhabiting Longyearbyen! Why? It is illegal to be buried there because of the freezing temperature will not allow the bodies to decompose. The corpses will only be preserved.
The city has some odd rules, too. There are no street names, only street numbers. Residents are also prohibited to have cats as pets, because cats are a threat to bird life. Everyone is required to know how to pull the trigger, just in case polar bears knock at your door or you are wandering around the city and happen to encounter them; but bringing a rifle inside a building is banned.
5. Centralia, Pennsylvania, USA
Centralia has turned from being the home of more than a thousand people, to a toxic environment and ghost town that causes the death of visitors. Though, it was not always like this. The government just wanted to dispose the waste and burn the landfill in 1962, yet they left out the fact that it was an old strip-mine pit linked to a source of coal. It caused an underground fire and affected the town center. The supply of coal underneath can stimulate the fire for around 250 years, even if Centralia has already been burning for more than fifty years. Thus, most of the residents relocated in 1980, pushed by the $42 million stipend of the government.
4. Noiva do Cordeiro, Brazil
Noiva do Cordeiro is a town in Brazil that consists of around 600 women ages 20 to 35. Some are married, and some are single. It brings to life “girl power” in a community because they established their own set of rules in daily activities, excluding men. It proves that women can survive without men for quite some time because men are only allowed to visit during weekends.
A resident shared that their community is more organized, more peaceful, and cleaner without men, because women understand each other better. They get along just fine since there is no room for competition. “It’s all for one, and one for all,” they stated.
3. Setenil de las Bodegas, Spain
“Have you been living under a rock?” Technically, when you are a resident of Setenil de las Bodegas, you have been. Setenil means “seven times no” in Latin. The seven times refer to the plan of the Catholics to take back what is theirs from the Muslims – their territory. On the seventh attempt, they succeeded in beating the Muslims.
The cliffs have had different uses. Muslims used the cliffs as a shield to those who wish to conquer it. This protected them from possible attackers. Today, the residents use the cliffs to protect themselves from the hotness in the summer season and coldness during the winter season.
2. Monowi, Nebraska
Is it still a “town” when there is only one person living in it? Basically, when you are the only resident, you are your own mayor, librarian, bartender, etc. This is the case for 83-year-old Elsie Eiler who is the remaining inhabitant of Monowi, Nebraska, after her husband died in 2004. She begs to differ that she is a loner because of many people, including tourists and neighbours, visit her every day to check up on her. Though, what I meant by neighbours, are those who are at least 20 miles away from her. “We’re like one big family. If anything happens, they’re there to sympathize with you,” she stated.
1. Miyake-jima Island, Japan
Another island in Japan possessing a strange atmosphere, literally, is Miyake-jima Island. It is necessary for tourists and residents to wear gas masks because of high concentrations of toxic gas, particularly sulfur, in the island. Sulfur is known to be toxic and dangerous. It causes an intense irritation of the nose and throat and death. It comes from the active volcano Mount Oyama. There was a time in 2000 when residents were requested to evacuate because of the eruption of a volcano. They relocated back shortly after, but they had to wear masks to tolerate the poisonous air. Nevertheless, tourists can still enjoy the various offers of the island, such as an amazing scuba diving experience and dolphin watching.
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