Thousands of unbelievable places to see with the best of all that is weird, amazing and bizarre in the world today. Open up a wonderland of curiosities you never knew existed and amaze your friends, your family, and yourself. Seeing is believing!
(All texts and photos were taken from the amazing collection of Strangest Books)
1The Catacombs of Paris – Paris, France
Overcrowding in medieval cemeteries in the centre of Paris at the end of the 18th century led the government to the creation of subterranean mass graves. Over the course of 18 months, from 1785, the bones and rotting corpses of 6 million people were moved in large carts across the city at night to a new resting place. Here they are arranged in huge piles at the ‘Empire of Death’, as it is commonly known. This network of about 200 miles of underground galleries contains millions of bones and the small part that is open to the public is certain to shock.
The human bones – including countless skulls – are arranged in many configurations such as crosses, faces, wall ornamentation, or simply huge mounds. Not for those of a nervous disposition.
2Coober Pedy – South Australia
Coober Pedy is one of the most unusual places in the world. It is a town where (due to the heat) approximately 80% of the population live and work underground. This is a mining town – opal mining to be precise – and following the early discovery of opals here by a teenager there has been a huge influx of miners since 1915. There are tunnels and associated pitfalls everywhere and mining still goes on here today. Other subterranean structures operating in the same manner as an above ground equivalent include a church, shops, pottery, art gallery, hotel, and other assorted offices and businesses. Most unusual of all must surely be the golf course where not a single blade of grass can be seen. The fairways are bald and the greens are oiled sand!
3Batu Caves – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
To reach the entrance to the massive Batu Caves you have to climb 272 rock steps, which can prove strenuous in the heat and with macaque monkeys vying for your attention; but this is exactly what over a million devotees do every January to celebrate the spectacular Hindu Festival of Thaipusam. This is a colourful celebration of Lord Subramaniam, a Hindu deity of youth, power and virtue, and is not for the squeamish. It may seem strange and bizarre to outsiders who see grown people piercing steel hooks into their chest, back and face, but this is one of the ways in which many penitents express their devotion. It is said that because they are in trance they cannot feel any pain. Surely a million people can’t be wrong.
4Radon Health Mine – Montana, US
The Radon Mine was originally used as far back as 1924 for silver and lead ore mining. In 1949, the by then abandoned mine was found to have the presence of radioactivity, and a visiting woman (for the purpose of stock investment) discovered her ailment had disappeared. Word spread and soon this was turned into a radon-therapy mine. Low dose radiation therapy is said to be beneficial in easing a multitude of ailments and even pets are treated in the radon-laden air here. They advise you to bring a blanket and pillow if you would like to sleep. Whatever next.
5Wieliczka Salt Mine – Krakow, Poland
This World Heritage Site is remarkable and is certain to astonish visitors as there is no comparable place in the world quite like it. The Wieliczka Salt Mine has been mined continuously since the Middle Ages and miners have carved elaborate underground rooms and intricate sculptures within the Miocene salt. There is a gigantic subterannean cathedral carved entirely from salt including the floor, walls and decorations, with even the glowing chandeliers being made from salt crystals.
The Salt Mine in Wieliczka has always been extremely popular, from the 14th century when it was shown to the very privileged royal visitors, to today where a million visitors a year pour in to see the labyrinth of chambers, passages, and incredible structures made of salt.
6Capuchin Catacombs – Sicily, Italy
There are numerous places to view mummified bodies if you are so inclined but the Capuchin Catacombs are without doubt the most gruesome place in the world to see them. Frequently referred to as the ‘Museum of Death’ – and not without good reason as there are over 8,000 mummies dating back to the 16th century lining the walls of the catacombs here – this place is eerie, sombre and intriguing. The most bizarre aspect of it all is that they give off no smell whatsoever. The assembled ranks of the dead, many with quite elegant costumes that have decayed over the years, are mainly skeletons – although some still have mummified flesh, hair, and even eyes.
A law passed by the Italian government in 1881 meant the catacombs were no longer allowed to continue with this mummification process, although special permission from the government saw the interring of a 2 year old child called Rosalia Lombardo in 1920. She is known as the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and it is said that her sister and other members of her family often visited her after her death. Her body is still perfectly intact to this day and she can be seen propped up in a glass case.
7Milk Grotto Chapel – Bethlehem, Israel
The legends surrounding the Milk Grotto Chapel are many and varied and this is the place where, according to Christian tradition, the Holy Family took shelter during the Slaughter of the Innocents by Herod’s soldiers. It is said that whilst Mary was breast-feeding the baby Jesus some of the milk was spilt onto the floor. This is supposed to have made the rock crumble and, as this was the milk that fed the Son of God, a remarkable pilgrimage cult has grown alongside the legend. Mothers – both Christian and Muslim – journey here to buy packets of the powdered white stone of the grotto which is said to increase the quality and amount of milk created by lactating mothers, by putting the powdery white stone into drinking water. As the white chalky rock resembles the colour of milk this seems reasonable, but in reality any benefits gained should be attributed to the calcium in the rock. Others take the rock home to place under their bed, but wouldn’t it be easier, and cheaper, to simply order a few extra pints from your milkman?
8Ithaa undersea restaurant – rangali island, maldives
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant is the first ever all-glass undersea restaurant in the world and its distinctive feature is the curved acrylic walls and roof which are 125mm thick. There are 5 of these acrylic arches which are sealed to each other and the structure with a special silicone sealant, and the structure itself was built in Singapore before being shipped to the Island on a massive barge; the barge being equipped with a giant crane to lower it into position in the sea. Incredibly, the structure weighed 175 tons, and a further 85 tons of sand was added to the belly of the structure to sink it into the sea.
The project cost $5 million to complete which means an astronomical amount of dishes have to be served up to recoup investment costs. Submerged 16ft below sea level the restaurant offers panoramic underwater views, providing diners with a face-to-face experience of the stunning beauty of the Indian Ocean.
9Waitomo Glow-Worm Caves – Otorohanga, New Zealand
A journey unlike no other you will ever experience is a subterranean boat trip into the spectacular Glow-worm Grotto of Waitomo Glow-worm Caves in New Zealand. The Waitomo network of limestone caves attracts up to a million visitors a year and their guided tour takes you through over 250 metres of stunning underground scenery. The acoustics in the Cathedral Cavern are world renowned, whilst other impressive cave formations include the Pipe Organ, Catacombs, and Tomo, which is a deep limestone shaft.
The Glow-worm Grotto (as it is known) is spectacularly illuminated by a phenomenon known as ‘bioluminescence’ which is produced by the females to attract males whilst in the final stage of their pupal development. Without this magnificent display the cave would be pitch-black. This cave has been known to the Maori population for centuries but it was only in the late 19th century that it was discovered by Europeans, and subsequently opened to the public in 1911.
10London Dungeon – London, England
London Dungeon is Europe’s largest ‘dark’ visitor attraction and is appropriately sited under the bleak, foreboding arches of London bridge. It is certainly not for the faint-hearted and visitors see torture, execution, and macabre medieval madness along the way. The Dungeons are some of Europe’s premier themed attractions offering visitors the opportunity to take a terrifying journey through the darker side of history. The Great Fire of London, a Boat Ride to Hell, and the Labyrinth of the Lost are all fantastic multi-million pound themed attractions amongst dozens of other exhibits and tableaux. Live actors add to the terror and excitement. There are many hideous instruments of torture to be seen in recreated settings, most of which are unbelievably sadistic and cruel. The dangerous streets of Whitechapel in Victorian London were the hunting grounds for notorious murderer and mutilator Jack the Ripper. One of the most infamous serial killers of all time, you can meet Jack at the London Dungeon.
All texts and photos were taken from the amazing collection of Strangest Books.