The 40 most mysterious places in the whole entire world
The 40 most mysterious places in the whole entire world
Planet Earth is a wondrous place that never ceases to amaze with its majestic wonders of nature and jaw-dropping man-made marvels. But our planet isn't without its fair share of mystery, either. If you're fascinated by places that will give you goosebumps, you'll certainly be intrigued by these enigmatic spots around the world.
Area 51 (Nevada)
The Air Force facility commonly known as Area 51, located within the Nevada Test and Training Range, has captured the imagination of both conspiracy theorists and Hollywood for decades. The top-secret military base (which is still operational) is surrounded by barren desert, and the secrecy surrounding its Cold War-era stealth aircraft testing led to rumors of aliens, wild government experiments and even a staged moon landing on the premises. Curious civilians can explore the area around the base, which has become a bizarre tourist destination, but they obviously aren't permitted inside.
The Bermuda Triangle
The Bermuda Triangle is perhaps the most famous mysterious place in the world. This area of about 500,000 square miles sits in the Atlantic Ocean between the island of Bermuda; Miami, Florida; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. More than 20 planes and 50 ships are said to have mysteriously vanished into thin air or crashed without explanation. Though vessels manage to pass through the area with ease every day, there's still a lot of mystery behind those unexplained accidents.
Blood Falls (Antarctica)
The coldest and driest place on the planet has a blood-red waterfall slowly trickling down an icy white surface. While Blood Falls in Antarctica may look like a murder scene, scientists finally determined in 2014 that the color comes from iron oxidizing within a briny saltwater pool buried deep beneath a glacier. While Antarctica might seem like a remote, otherworldly destination, it's actually a great place to take an epic cruise.
Courtesy of Peter Rejcek, The National Science Foundation
Coral Castle (Homestead, Florida)
Eccentric Latvian immigrant Edward Leedskalnin single-handedly built Coral Castle in Florida over the course of 25 years, up until his 1951 death. Without the use of large machinery, Leedskalnin cut, moved, carved and sculpted more than 1,100 tons of coral rock. How exactly he managed this feat of engineering is still a mystery (he built it in a remote location and didn't allow anyone to witness its construction), especially since he only had a fourth-grade education.
Crooked Forest (Poland)
This Polish forest lives up to its name, with hundreds of whimsically wonky pine trees. Approximately 400 pines were planted there around 1930 and grew with an almost 90-degree bend at their base. Some believe that a technique or human tool was actually used to make the trees curve this way, while others speculate that a winter snowstorm could have given the trees their interesting shape.
Devil's Bridge (Kromlau, Germany)
There are multiple places around the world that have been named "Devil's Bridge," due to some sort of supernatural connection, but the most famous one is located in the German town of Kromlau. Known as Rakotzbrücke in German, the parabolic bridge was commissioned in 1860. It forms a perfect circle with its own reflection in the water below, a feat only deemed possible in a fairy tale - or with some otherworldly assistance.
Devils Tower National Monument (Wyoming)
Devils Tower is a dramatic geologic feature that juts out of the rolling prairie surrounding the Black Hills region in Wyoming, and it became the first national monument in the country in 1906. This site is considered sacred to multiple Native American tribes, and its mythical quality led to it being featured in the sci-fi movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." It's still the setting for Native American ceremonies as well as a popular destination for rock climbing enthusiasts.
Door to Hell (Turkmenistan)
Almost 50 years ago, a gaping, fiery crater opened up in the desert of northern Turkmenistan. The Darvaza Crater, also known as the Door to Hell, is still burning today, and at night its glow can be seen from miles away. The crater is thought to have been created by a Russian natural gas drilling mishap in which engineers set the area on fire to stop the spread of dangerous gases, unaware of how long the fire would burn.
Easter Island (Chile)
This isolated island in the Pacific Ocean was once populated by the Rapa Nui civilization, who erected almost 1,000 giant stone statues known as moai approximately 900 years ago. These towering figures, which stand an average 13 feet tall and weigh 14 tons apiece, captivated European explorers who first landed on the island in 1722. No one knows for sure why these ancient Polynesians carved and placed the statues across the island, though one recent theory hypothesizes that they were placed as markers of freshwater sources.
Eternal Flame Falls (Chestnut Ridge Park, New York)
If you follow the route to Shale Creek in New York's Chestnut Ridge Park, you'll find a strange orange-red light glowing behind a waterfall that looks like something out of a fairy tale. This Eternal Flame burning behind the water is fueled by methane gas escaping through cracks in the rock. The water sometimes extinguishes the flame, but visitors often start it up again with a lighter to keep the magic alive.
Fairy Circles (Namibia)
Millions of circular patches dot the desert landscape in the African country of Namibia. These eerie ovals are known as "fairy circles" because their defined shape and pattern look as if they've been created by small spritely creatures. While scientists have many theories, including sand termites, radioactive soil or toxins, there's no official explanation for their creation.
Giant's Causeway (Northern Ireland)
Giant's Causeway is a natural wonder on the coast of Northern Ireland that deserves a spot on any bucket list. It features 40,000 interlocking, hexagonal basalt columns that were created by a volcanic eruption. The location is also the subject of a charming Gaelic legend about a giant named Finn McCool, who threw chunks of the coast into the sea to create a stepping stone path to Scotland.
Great Blue Hole (Belize)
The Great Blue Hole is quite straightforward in its name and yet still overwhelming in size and beauty. This massive, remote marine seahole off the coast of Belize is more than 1,000 feet across and 400 feet deep. Scuba divers flock here to experience its hypnotically crystal-clear waters and marine life.
The Great Pyramid of Giza (Egypt)
The Great Pyramid of Giza has been captivating mankind for thousands of years. The only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world that's still intact, it continues to be one of the most visited tourist attractions on Earth. Visitors and scholars alike are still baffled by how the 455-foot-tall pyramid (and its two neighbors) were created without modern tools, although a leading theory asserts that they were constructed using wet sand and internal ramps.
Island of the Dolls (Mexico City, Mexico)
Isla de las Muñecas, Spanish for Island of the Dolls, is an island located in the canals of the Xochimilco neighborhood of Mexico City. As the legend goes, the island's caretaker became haunted by guilt after he was unable to save a little girl who tragically drowned there more than 50 years ago. He hung dolls around the island as a tribute until mysteriously drowning himself in the exact same spot that she did. The unsettling dolls with severed limbs, decapitated heads and empty eye sockets still remain there, and some people claim they can hear the dolls whispering to them.
Kawah Ijen Lake (Indonesia)
Kawah Ijen Lake and volcano are both terrifying and breathtaking because of a rare natural phenomenon that occurs here. Sulfuric gases burst through the rocky surfaces around the lake, combusting when they hit the outside air. This creates flames that shoot 16 feet into the air! The fires appear to burn blue and liquid sulfur streams down the mountain like electric blue lava.
Lake Abraham (Alberta, Canada)
In warmer months, Lake Abraham is simply a lovely turquoise manmade lake and reservoir in Alberta, Canada. But in the winter, the frozen water gets filled with suspended white orbs that look like snowballs. It might look like Christmas magic, but these ice bubbles are actually dangerous pockets of flammable methane gas formed when organic matter at the bottom of the lake decomposes.
Lake Hillier (Australia)
With its bubblegum-pink waters, Lake Hillier might perhaps be the most puzzling lake in the world. It sits right next to the Pacific Ocean, which makes its natural color really pop in comparison. It has plenty of fish living in its waters and is even safe for swimming, although tourists aren't allowed in the water. The reason for Lake Hillier's color remains a mystery, but it's most likely caused by algae, bacteria or chemical reactions.
Lake Maracaibo (Venezuela)
Over this inlet in the Caribbean sea in northwestern Venezuela, lightning storms take over the skies almost every night of the year. This phenomenon is known as Catatumbo lightning, named for the river that flows into the lake. Lake Maracaibo sees more lightning than anywhere else on Earth thanks to a combination of heat, humidity and air currents. There can be up to 280 lightning bolts in an hour here. The ability to see an intense natural show makes it a truly unique place to spend the night.
Lake Natron (Tanzania)
Lake Natron in Tanzania is also known as Petrifying Lake because is has the power to turn birds to "stone." The water temperature can reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit and its pH level is 10.5, nearly as high as ammonia. The water is so caustic that it can burn the skin and eyes of animals that aren't adapted to it. Its high levels of sodium carbonate also act as a preservative, leaving birds, bats and other animals that die in its waters mummified. The lake is, however, a safe breeding place for a flock of flamingos.
Loch Ness (Scotland)
Loch Ness is a large, deep, freshwater loch, or sea inlet, in the Scottish Highlands. This loch is famous for sightings of its titular Loch Ness Monster, a mythical serpent-like creature affectionately nicknamed Nessie. Nessie's existence has never been proven, but it's become just as famous as Bigfoot. Even if you don't see any evidence of a monster, the area is gorgeous and worth a trip. Scotland is considered by some travelers to be the most beautiful country in the world.
Magnetic Hill (Ladakh, India)
Magnetic hills, or gravity hills, are optical illusions in which a road that looks like it's sloping uphill due to the surrounding landscape is actually sloping downhill, so cars, buses and other vehicles appear to roll uphill in defiance of gravity. Local superstition held that the road led people to heaven, while others believed the hill had a magnetic force that would also interfere with passing aircraft. There are examples of this phenomenon all over the world, but one of the most famous magnetic hills is located near the city of Leh in Ladakh, India.
Marfa Lights (Marfa, Texas)
Ghosts, UFOs, fairies - for more than 100 years, onlookers have tried to identify the twinkling lights that appear at night outside of the hip, tiny West Texas town of Marfa. Appearing as bright, colorful orbs pulsating or darting through the dark and wide Texas skies, the Marfa Lights have captivated everyone from cowboys to actor James Dean, who saw them while filming the movie "Giant." What the lights are and how they are created remains a mystery, but the town celebrates them every year at its annual Marfa Lights Festival.
Michigan Triangle (Lake Michigan)
Did you know that Lake Michigan has its very own Bermuda Triangle? Many people associate shipwrecks with the wild waves of the open ocean, but there is a history of sunken ships, plane crashes and disappearances of vessels and entire crews within an area in Lake Michigan created by drawing lines connecting Benton Harbor in Michigan, Manitowoc in Wisconsin and Ludington in Michigan. Supernatural forces are a leading explanation for the frequency of these documented disasters.
Moeraki Boulders (Koekohe Beach, New Zealand)
The Moeraki Boulders formed about 65 million years ago before settling on Koekohe Beach near Moeraki on New Zealand's Otago coast. These surprisingly spherical stones weigh several tons each and stand more than 6 feet tall. Some people believe they are ancient alien eggs, while according to Maori legend, they are food baskets washed ashore from the shipwreck of the canoe that brought their ancestors to the South Island of New Zealand.
The Nazca Lines (Peru)
More than 2,000 years ago, the ancient Nazca people of Peru carved giant designs of more than 800 humans, animals, plants and mythical creatures into the desert plain using only primitive tools. Some of them are as large as 30 miles across. They've long captivated people because their intricate designs are best viewed from above, and they're very difficult to discern from ground level. Despite being studied by scientists for almost 100 years, their function is still unknown.
Papakolea Beach (Hawaii)
The world is full of amazing, vibrant beaches with sand colored by various minerals and chemicals. One of the most striking "rainbow beaches" is Papakolea Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii. Also known as Green Sand Beach, this beach was carved out of the side of a volcano, and its sandy shores are the same hue at the surrounding grass due to olivine crystals created during an ancient volcanic eruption.
Pine Gap (Australia)
Essentially the Area 51 of Australia, Pine Gap is a satellite surveillance base jointly operated by the U.S. and Australian governments in the middle of the Outback. When it was opened in the '70s at the height of the Cold War, the public was told it was a space research facility instead of a spying operation. Thus, it became linked with many conspiracy theories. There are also legends of alien sightings near the base, which is still operational today.
Plain of Jars (Laos)
Thousands of large ancient stone jars spread for miles across the Xieng Khouang plain in the highlands of Laos. Some stand 10 feet tall and weigh tons. Archaeologists estimate the jars are 2,000 years old but their purpose is unclear. The most common theories are that they were used as funerary urns or for food storage. Local legend has it that they belonged to an ancient race of giants who used them to brew celebratory rice wine after winning battles.
The Racetrack (Death Valley National Park, California)
Located in a remote valley between the Cottonwood and Last Chance mountain ranges, the Racetrack is a place of haunting beauty and mystery. The Racetrack is a playa (a dry lakebed), best known for its strange moving rocks that look as if they're being pushed or dragged by some mysterious force through the valley, leaving a trail behind them. Scientists recently discovered that the rocks are moved by the wind during brief windows when the ground is covered with ice.
Richat Structure (Mauritania)
Also known as the mythical-sounding Eye of the Sahara, the Richat Structure is a 30-mile-wide circular feature that looks like a bull's-eye in the middle of the desert. Its central dome is surrounded by concentric circles of ridges and valleys. Richat was initially theorized to be a meteorite impact site but is now believed to have been created by erosion. Its distinctive shape can be seen by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
Roanoke Island, North Carolina
The lost colony of Roanoke Island is a captivating mystery that many Americans learn about as schoolchildren in history class. An entire colony of people seemingly vanished in the 1580s, a few years after the first permanent European settlement in North America. The only remaining clues they left behind were the word "Croatoan" carved on a post and the letters "CRO" scratched into a tree trunk. Various theories abounded, including that they were killed by Native Americans, Spaniards or an outbreak of disease, but there's some evidence that the settlers assimilated into different Native American communities.
Roswell, New Mexico
Roswell, New Mexico, has become synonymous with the search for aliens after a UFO supposedly crashed there in 1947. A ranch worker made headlines when he claimed he found debris from a flying saucer crash. The U.S. government explained the incident away as a crashed weather balloon, though some people didn't buy this explanation. Tens of thousands of people from around the world descend on Roswell, which today has its tongue planted firmly in its cheek, for the city's annual UFO Festival.
Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia)
The world's largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia extends for more than 4,000 square miles. Its extreme flatness and dryness, clear blue skies and lack of plants or animals helps create a dreamy mirror-like reflective surface during the wet season. In the dry season, the plain becomes adorned with a fascinating pattern of polygonal cracks that look like floor tiles, making it one of the most mesmerizing places on Earth.
Sea of Stars (Vaadhoo Island, Maldives)
Known as the Sea of Stars, the waters around Vaadhoo Island, part of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, put on a magical nighttime display. When disturbed, billions of bioluminescent microorganisms called dinoflagellates in the water emit a bluish glow, much like aquatic fireflies. When the conditions are right, these floating lights can rival the splendor of a spectacular fireworks show.
Skellig Michael (Ireland)
This mystical island, which sits 8 miles off the coast of Ireland, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. There are several Celtic and Christian legends about the rocky island, which rises 715 feet out of the water. A group of monks settled there and built a settlement in the sixth century that still stands today. Fans of Star Wars might recognize the island as Luke Skywalker's home in the most recent "Star Wars" films.
Slope Point (New Zealand)
At the southernmost point of New Zealand's South Island, the constant, fierce winds blowing up from Antarctica are so strong that they've bent the trees growing there into surreal, permanent shapes. The trees were planted by a local sheep farmer to help protect his flocks from the wild weather.
Spotted Lake (British Columbia, Canada)
If you visit Spotted Lake, located in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, in the spring or winter, it will look like an ordinary, lovely body of water. In the summertime, however, as it gets hot and water starts to evaporate, the lake recedes into many tiny colorful pools. These funky yellow, blue and green spots are caused by a high concentration of different minerals in each pond. The indigenous Okanagan Nation believed that the different circles had various healing properties.
Stone Spheres (Palmar Sur, Costa Rica)
Also called the Stone Balls, the Stone Spheres of Costa Rica remain one of the biggest mysteries in archaeology. The more than 300 spheres, which are almost perfectly round, were unearthed by workers clearing a field in the 1930s. They range in size and weigh up to 16 tons. They are apparently man-made, and though no one really knows how or why they were made by an ancient indigenous culture, it is suspected they were used as decorative status symbols. Visitors can see many of the original stones at the museum and archaeological site in Palmar Sur.
The prehistoric monument from more than 5,000 years ago is such a famous landmark that people might not think of it as mysterious anymore. But how and why these massive stones in England were made and arranged over the course of 1,500 years has captivated researchers, historians and curious visitors for years. While there's consensus that is was built as a sacred temple and burial ground, how Neolithic people managed this massive architectural feat is still unknown. If you're fascinated by historic locations, check out these 50 must-visit American destinations for history buffs.
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