You might wonder how it’s even possible that there are still strange places in the world, but the truth is that there are plenty of spots that seem straight out of fairy tales or science fiction, and you won’t believe you’re not just imagining them. From the floating islands in Lake Titicaca to the pyramid-like rock formations in Gobustan National Park, here are eight of the strangest places in the world that actually exist.
1) The Door to Hell, Derweze, Turkmenistan
The Door to Hell is an eternal fire that has been burning continuously since Soviet scientists lit it in 1971. Located in Turkmenistan, it’s one of the world’s weirdest tourist attractions.
The Door to Hell is an unusual, gaping pit that looks like a scene from hell. It’s not a natural occurrence but rather an intentional and man-made fire. It was lit by Soviet geologists in 1971, when they set off an underground explosion as part of a drilling project, then abandoned it. To their surprise, after several months of trying to douse it with water failed to put out the fire, they concluded that gases from natural gas deposits underneath were feeding it and made further attempts to contain it futile. They’ve given up on ever fully extinguishing it.
2) The Catacombs of Paris, France
The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries that hold the remains of about six million people, most of which were relocated from cemeteries outside the city during a time when there was a lack of space for burials.
The Catacombs are more than just a creepy tourist attraction. They offer a fascinating insight into how people saw death during past periods of history. The ossuaries were mainly used by residents of Paris during two waves of plague outbreaks. During these times, mass graves were created to prevent further contamination, and it was quickly discovered that cemeteries couldn’t keep up with demand. Although construction began shortly after the first major plague outbreak in 1786, it wasn’t until 1810 that an official network of catacombs was complete.
3) The Great Blue Hole, Belize
Belize’s coast is home to the Great Blue Hole, a massive sinkhole formed when limestone caves collapsed on the ocean floor.
The deepest point of The Great Blue Hole is 180 meters, but that’s not even half as deep as some of these sinkholes get. Some sinkholes are well over 1,000 meters (or even more than 2,000!) deep. For comparison’s sake, most skyscrapers top out at 300 meters. What makes these sinkholes so special? Some can form from a collapse above ground – like those you see in The Great Blue Hole – or from a hole that used to be connected to an underground cave system, which formed underground and caused a collapse on top. Others were formed when salt water eroded away limestone caves and stalactites and stalagmites over hundreds or thousands of years.
4) The Nazca Lines, Peru
The Nazca Lines are located on a coastal plain of southern Peru. These ancient drawings can only be seen from the air and date back to 500 BC.
There are more than 800 of these fascinating designs, ranging from simple lines and geometric shapes to complex depictions of animals and even humans. The lines are thought to depict gods and mythological creatures, but there is also evidence that they were used as an extensive astronomical calendar or to predict water levels during El Niño. These drawings can be found in three different areas. The first lies between Nazca town and Palpa on a plain called Maria Reiche Neuman Airport. Two other areas lie just outside Nazca: along a hill known as Cerro Blanco and another plain near Palpa Pampa River. Some designs are only visible after prolonged rains while others appear at specific times of year when winds deposit sand over them, though you’ll need to check with local guides for exact dates.
5) The Crooked Forest, Poland
Crooked Forest is a grove of pine trees planted intentionally during the 1930s in Poland. Scientists believe they were planted intentionally, but they do not know why.
It’s estimated that there are over 400 trees in The Crooked Forest, although some of them have died since then. They were planted along a single curve and grow at angles between 30° and 60° degrees. They average about 50-60 feet tall, which is short considering pine trees can live for hundreds of years, but they do still appear to be healthy. There are even many seedlings growing between branches of older trees and scientists think they could live on for centuries more if nothing else happens to them.
6) The Eternal Flame Falls, New York
The Eternal Flame Falls, New York, Created by an abandoned natural gas well, this waterfall is set on a deserted stretch of Route 17 in rural western New York.
Besides the Eternal Flame Falls, there are only four man-made waterfalls in the world. Two of them are used to generate hydroelectricity at Niagara Falls. A natural gas wellhead produces Eternal Flame Falls that have burned continuously since 1938 when they were lit as an experiment. A burn rate of about 100 cubic feet per hour causes them to go out when there is not enough natural gas to fuel them.
7) The Wave, Arizona
Over 600 feet in diameter, the Wave is the largest known of its kind. It is located near Coyote Buttes North. Erosion has formed a wave-like pattern in the sandstone formation.
Located near Coyote Buttes North, The Wave is among a group of sandstone rock formations, most of which were created by erosion. Although it is one of many in Arizona that was formed through erosion, it is considered to be one of largest among its kind. It spans over 600 feet across and rises 20 feet high. Looking at it from certain angles gives viewers a view that mimics a crashing wave on water.
8) The Magnetic Hill, Canada
According to legend, a phenomenon known as Magnetic Hill is located near Moncton, New Brunswick. It is said that when you drive on the road from Moncton to Shediac, it will seem like you’re going uphill.
The reason for that is an optical illusion. The hill itself is actually downward, but it appears to be going upwards. In fact, this effect works well enough that local legend has it that if you roll a penny off the top of the hill and get lucky, it will land at its base. The reason for this is again an optical illusion. If you’re looking up at the hill from below, it’ll appear to be steeply sloped towards the bottom- making dropping a penny make sense- so that’s what people think they see happen. In reality, they probably just dropped their penny off of a ledge or something, but many locals have reported witnessing coins mysteriously rolling up the side of Magnetic Hill.