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Witches’ Well – An Estonian Oddity

Located in Tuhala, northern Estonia, Witches’ Well has fascinated locals and tourists for thousands of years.

Founded around 3,000 years ago, Tuhala host one f the most unique natural phenomena in the world, Witches’ Well. Most of the time the 2.5 meters deep well looks totally normal, but after heavy rains it starts spouting up water and floods the entire area. The local population have been blaming this strange occurrence on witches.  It’s said they gather in a sauna below the ground and beat each other with birch branches causing a commotion on the surface.

Scientists say the bizarre phenomenon occurs when the underground Tuhala River can’t handle the volume of water gathered from rainfalls, but the people of Tuhala don’t want an explanation, they like living in a world surrounded by magic. There are some who claim to have seen burning demons flying over their town, while others still believe in the Estonian God Taara.

Whether you choose to believe that witches are behind the flooding of Witches’ Well, or you believe it’s nothing more than a perfectly explainable natural phenomenon, Witches’ Well remains a must-see attraction of Estonia.

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Djavolja Varos – Devil’s Town in Serbia

Djavolja Varos is a strange rock formation in south Serbia, created by strong water erosion of the surrounding soil

Djavolja Varos, which means “Devil’s Town” in Serbian, features 202 earth pyramids, each between 2-15 meters high and 4-6 meters wide. Most of these rock towers have an andesit cap that protects them from further erosion. When an earth pyramid protects its protective cap, it is quickly disintegrated by the falling rains, but they form just as quick, because of the heavy water erosion. This is what inspired locals to name this extraordinary site Djavolja Varos, because they believe changes like these happen when demons fight each other for power.

The strange sounds made by the wind in this place are also behind its creepy name. The murmurs, howling and squeaking coming from Djavolja Varos on windy nights have frightened local population for centuries and are at the bottom of their eerie legends.

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The Mysterious Leh Magnetic Hill

Nestled between the Great Himalayas and Karakoramh mountains, Leh Magnetic Hill apparently has magnetic properties capable of pulling vehicles uphill.

Located just 30 km from the city of Leh, the Magnetic Hill is quite a popular tourist attraction in India. Travelers from all over the world are drawn here by its mysterious magnetic powers. There is a marked line on the road going up the hill, where drivers are instructed to put their cars in neutral and sit back as they get pulled up at speeds over 20 km/h.

Stories say the magnetic energy is so powerful that aircrafts have to fly at a higher altitude to avoid interference. But, in reality, there is no magnetism or mystical power involved, just an optical illusion created by the layout of the surroundings. A slightly downhill slope appears to go uphill and while the car naturally roles downwards, the landscape makes it look like it’s actually climbing.

Even though it’s just nature playing a trick on us mere mortals, it’s still an amazing experience, worth trying. Check out the video at the bottom to see the Leh Magnetic Hill in action.

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The Incredible Taung Kalat Monastery

Built atop an extinct volcano plug, the Buddhist monastery of Taung Kalat is one of the most breathtaking sites in Burma and the world.

Many people call the hill on which the monastery was built, Mount Popa, but they’re mistaking it with the much higher volcano, close by. The hill is called Taung Kalat and though it looks like a mere bump when compared to Mount Popa, climbing it is quite a task. There are seven hundred seventy seven steps to from the bottom, all the way to the Buddhist monastery.

The locals believe Nats (37 demigod-like beings) live inside Taung Kalat hill and judging by the heavenly views from up there, they just might be right.

Climbing up Taung Kalat, you’re bound to run into some adorable Macaques, but be careful, they’re wild creatures and are likely to snatch anything you lay on the ground, before you even have the chance to blink.

Taung Kalat Monastery and its surroundings are truly unique, but unless the Burmese government intervenes soon, they will degrade beyond recovery.

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The Amazing Seashell Temple in Taiwan

In the hills near San Chih, northern Taiwan, lies the Seashell Temple, one of the most amazing architectural works in the world.

I’m sure many of you have seen photos of it before, it’s almost on every spam photo site on the internet, sometimes listed as being in Bagkok or Taiwan, but I thought it deserved a spot among the oddities on Oddity Central.Almost completely covered with seashells and pieces of coral, Pei Khe Miao (as its known by the Chinese) takes your breath away the minute you lay eyes on it.

Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of genuine information concerning the Seashell Temple and I don’t want to make stuff up, so for now you’ll just have to settle for some photos and a video.

Photos via Awesome Asia

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Berkeley Pit – A Toxic Tourist Attraction

That’s right, Berkeley Pit is one of the few places in the world where you have to pay to look at a giant pool of toxic waste.

Located in Butte, Montana, Berkeley Pit is a former open-pit copper mind turned weird tourist attraction. It’s one mile long over half a mile wide and 1780 feet deep, 900 of which are full of extremely toxic water. On the surface, the poison looks a lot like blood and is so saturated with copper, miners were able to harvest the metal directly from the water. From 13 million gallons of water, 400,000 pounds of copper were produced.

The acidic water includes chemicals like arsenic, cadmium, zinc or sulfuric acid and, if you were to drink some, it would corrode through your digestive system before getting a chance to poison you. In 1995 a flock of migrating geese landed on Berkeley Pit and never took flight again. A total of 342 carcasses were recovered. Since the incident a bird watch program was implemented.

But, interestingly enough, good things can come out of toxic waste. Scientists have discovered new types of bacteria that have adapted to the harsh conditions of Berkeley Pit, by producing highly toxic compounds that improve survivability. These chemicals have proven very resilient to cancer and further research is currently ongoing.

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The Ideal Palace

Le Palais Ideal is one of the most popular examples of naive art architecture, built by Ferdinand Cheval, a French Postman, over a period of 33 years.

Cheval began building his Ideal Palace in April 1879. While he was on the job, the postman tripped over a stone and was impressed by its unusual shape. Inspired by the stone, he returned the following day and started gathering more rocks and putting them in his pockets. Over time he began carrying them in baskets and then, in a wheelbarrow.

With no architectural skills whatsoever, Ferdinand Cheval managed to build his Ideal Palace, combining several styles and using the Bible and Hingu mythology as inspiration. He spent 20 years on the outer walls alone, binding the stones together with lime, mortar and cement and decorating them with all sorts of chapel and temple models.

Cheval wanted to be buried in his Palais Ideal, but French law didn’t allow it. So he spent the last years of his life building himself an intricate mausoleum, in the cemetery of Hauterives. His palace was recognized as a masterpiece and is now a cultural landmark and one of France’s popular tourist attractions.

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KidZania – Career-Building Theme Park for Kids

KidZania is a chain of theme-parks where children can decide what they want to be when they grow up, by actually doing the job.

Do you remember, as a kid, when someone asked you “what do you want to be when you grow up”? And you would say things like astronaut, fireman, doctor without actually knowing what those jobs actually implied. Well, at KidZania, children have the opportunity to experience all kinds of jobs and decide if they really like them.

Luis Javier Laresgoiti, a true theme-park innovator, was the one who came up with the concept of Kidzania and was further developed by Xavier López Ancona, a Mexican entrepreneur. The first career-building theme park was opened in 1999, in Mexico City and there are now 6 Kidzania parks around the world (Tokyo, Monterrey, Jakarta, Koshien and Lisbon).

At Kidzania, children can try popular jobs like firefighting, driving planes, being a doctor, as well as well as being a mechanic or flipping burgers at a diner. The point is for kids to have fun and learn the value of money and work, at a young age. Parents are allowed to watch the kids as they perform the jobs, but they are not allowed to help them.

At the end of the day, the young workers are paid in KidZos (official currency of KidZania).

Photos by GETTY IMAGES via Telegraph.co.uk

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Lena’s Stone Forest

One of the most beautiful natural wonders of Russia, Lena’s Stone Forest is also one of the most difficult to reach, by tourists.

Known also as Lena’s Stone Pillars, this incredible rock formation is not only beautiful to look at, it’s also holds important information on the formation of the organic world. Fossils from various organisms dating back to the Cambrian era could supply invaluable insight on life evolved on planet Earth.

Lena’s Stone Forest offers tourists a unique sight. Colossal stone statues rise up from the earth and pierce the sky, like giants frozen in time. The pillars are grouped together and stretch for tens of kilometers, along the river banks.

Unfortunately reaching this wondrous place is no easy feat. It lies in a part of Siberia not yet touched by civilization and it will take you roughly four days to reach it, from Moscow. After a long flight, you’ll encounter armed locals more than glad to take you to Lena’s Stone Pillars, in their boats, for a “small” $500 fee. The boat ride lasts about 3 days, but once/if you reach your destination, it will all have been worth it.

via English Russia

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Hotel Made Out of 200,000 Plastic Key Cards

The Holiday Inn Key Card Hotel was built by card-stacking master Bryan Berg, from 200,000 discarded hotel key cards.

To mark the relaunch of their hotel chain, numbering 1,200 establishments, Holiday Inn inaugurated the world’s first key card hotel, in Manhattan, New York. It’s made up of a guestroom, bathroom and lobby, featuring life size furniture made-out of key cards.

Bryan Berg, who built his first record-breaking house of cards when he was only 17, back in 1992, said this was his toughest challenge yet, because he has never created human scale structures before. The Key Card Hotel was opened on September 17 and will be in business until September 21. During the five day event, Bryan Berg will build a replica of the Empire State Building, inside the lobby of the strange hotel.

via Daily Mail and Xinhua

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A Preview of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Theme Park

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a theme park based on JK Rowling’s best selling series, Harry Potter, due to open in the spring of 2010, at Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure resort, in Orlando.

Artists have drawn artworks to show the world a small preview of the magical theme park. Let’s have a look at what we’ll be able to experience in the world of Harry Potter:

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Caveland – A Perfect Home Built in a Cave

Believe it or not, there are people out there who still live in caves and the weirdest part of it is, they actually enjoy it.

Curt Sleeper and his entire family have been living inside the cave they’ve appropriately named Caveland, for the last five years. Their unusual story begins back in December 2003, when Curt was searching for a commercial property on eBay and he stumbled across a cave, in the Fetus/Crystal City area, Missouri. I guess it’s true what they say, you can find anything on eBay.

Curt visited the property and fell in love with it on the spot. Where most others may see just an inhospitable environment, he saw a perfect home for his family, so he started working on it right away. The Sleepers used all their savings and inheritance money to build a comfortable house and the result is simply mind-blowing, as you can see in the pics below.

There have been some rough bumps for the sleepers, but the toughest time was at the beginning of 2009, when, due to the economic crisis, they couldn’t refinance their mortgage. Since banks weren’t interested in appraising an odd cave house, Caveland had to be put on sale on eBay, for $300,000. Fortunately, the Sleepers managed to find some long-term financing and they are still living in their unusual home.

via Caveland

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The Seven-Color Earths of Chamarel

The strange formation known as the Colored Earths is located near the village of Chamarel, in southwest Mauritius. The exposed hills form seven different color patterns: red brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow.

Promoted as the most beautiful attraction of Mauritius, during the 1960s, the Colored Earths are still one of the most popular destinations on the island. This unusual geological wonder was formed when volcanic rock cooled at different temperatures, in multicolored layers. Rains have shaped the rock into small hills that look like dunes of sand and, the first time you look at them, it will seem like the colors are actually just shadows. But after taking a closer look you’ll realize the seven colors are very real.

But this unusual coloring of the hills at Chamarel isn’t their only bizarre trait. Geologists have been fascinated with the Colored Earths ever since they were first discovered, but haven’t yet been able to explain why they never erode in spite of being  exposed to harsh elements and torrential rains.

The Colored Earths of Chamarel also have the unique property of settling into layers. If you take a handful of each of the seven-colored sands and mix them together, they will eventually separate into seven different colored layers.

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The Merry Cemetery of Sapanta

Most cemeteries around the world are quiet, solemn places where colors, jokes or smiles aren’t seen very often. But the Merry Cemetery of Sapanta, in Romania is probably the most bizarre cemetery on Earth, where many people come to enjoy themselves.

Located in the small village of Sapanta, in northern Romania, the Merry Cemetery is one of the country’s most popular destinations. Tourists from all over the world come to this place to see over 800 colorful oak crosses, covered with paintings that depict scenes from the life of each person buried there. Some even have funny lyrics about the way they lived their lives.

In most cultures death is serious business, but at Sapanta it’s reason for laughter and celebration. The origin of this belief can be traced back to the ancient Dacians, who believed they were immortal and death was nothing more than a passing stage to a better life.

The first cross in the Merry Cemetery of Sapanta was painted in 1935, by its founder, Stan Ioan Patras. Since 1960, over 800 wooden masterpieces were added, transforming the cemetery into an outdoor art museum.

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The Blue Cave of Croatia

Located on the Croatian Island of Bisevo, the Blue Cave is one f the most spectacular caves in the world.

Croatian fishermen have known about the existence of the Blue Cave for a long time, but it has been revealed to the rest of the world in 1884, when a small entrance was blown-up in the side of one of its walls.Before this happened, the only way to access the cave was to dive underneath its wall.

The best time to visit the Blue Cave of Bisevo is on a sunny day, between 11 am and 12 pm, when the sun rays penetrate the water and reflect off the limestone bottom of the cave, filling it with an incredibly beautiful blue light. It’s a truly unique experience that makes visiting the Blue Cave totally worth it.

via Atlas Obscura

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