Helensburgh Glow Worm Tunnel – An Otherworldly Tourist Attraction

The small Australian town of Helensburgh is home to one of the most amazing places on the planet – an abandoned railway tunnel that glows an eerie blue at night.

The Helensburgh Glow Worm Tunnel is an abandoned rail tunnel in Helensburgh, New South Wales which has become famous both for the ghost stories surrounding it and the glow worm colony that give it its iconic bioluminescent blue glow. Originally known as the Metropolitan tunnel, the 624-meter-long underground passage was inaugurated at the end of the 19th century and used to transport coal from the local mine to the suburbs. However, it closed down a couple of decades later and remained abandoned until the mid-90s, enough time for a colony of glow worms to claim it for themselves…

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The World’s Largest Monastic Library Is Also One of the Most Beautiful

Admont Abbey, a Baroque monastery in Austria, hosts the world’s largest monastic library, which also happens to be a stunning work of art.

Dating back to the year 1074 when the Benedictine monks of Salzburg decided to found their own abbey in the town of Admont, Admont Abbey is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region of Styria. And while the entire monastic complex is impressive, the 70-meter-long library is undoubtedly the abbey’s main attraction. Featuring flamboyant ceiling frescoes, wooden sculptures, gold busts, gilded bookshelves, and no less than seven frescoes-decorated cupolas, this is definitely one of the world’s most beautiful libraries.

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This Leaning Temple Is Taiwan’s Version of the Tower of Pisa

Taiwan’s Chiayi County is home to a temple so slanted that it has been dubbed Taiwan’s version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

In August of 2009, Taiwan was ravaged by Typhoon Morakot, the deadliest typhoon to hit the island in its recorded history. It produced copious amounts of rainfall that resulted in enormous mudflows and severe flooding throughout Taiwan. The typhoon caused enormous damage and hundreds of human fatalities, but it also produced one of Taiwan’s most unusual tourist attractions – The Taihe Zhenxing Palace (振興宮舊址), a place of worship tilted at about 45 degrees.

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The Anti-Pirate Houses of Ikaria Island

The Greek Island of Ikaria in the Aegean Sea is home to numerous camouflaged houses built under giant rocks to make them harder to spot by pirates.

Nowadays, Ikaria is a popular tourist destination famous for its sandy beaches, picturesque villages and pristine natural landscape. But it wasn’t always the slice of paradise it is today. Hundreds of years ago, Ikaria was a prime target for the pirates who called the Aegean their home, so to protect themselves from their raids, the locals started building ‘anti-pirate’ homes deep into the mountains, to make their island look uninhabited from the sea. At one point, the entire population of Ikaria concealed itself in rock houses that didn’t attract attention unless you literally walked past them.

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Pheasant Island – A Small Patch of Land That Changes Country Every Six Months

Pheasant Island is a tiny island on the border between Spain and France that alternates ownership status between the two countries every six months.

Located on the Bidasoa River, the natural border between Spain and France, Pheasant Island is a deserted patch of land with a rather fascinating history and political status. It might not look like much today, but hundreds of years ago it was where the Thirty Years’ War between Spain and France finally ended. The two countries sent a couple of their most important dignitaries to the island to negotiate, with their respective armies gathered on both sides of the Bidasoa, in case things went wrong. 11 years and 24 summits later, a deal was struck, and Pheasant Island became the world’s smallest condominium, under the joint sovereignty of the two nations.

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Lerik – Azerbaijan’s Land of Longevity

Lerik, a mountainous region in southern Azerbaijan, is famous for being home to an unusually high concentration of centenarians.

Regions where people tend to live longer than average are known as “blue zones”, and we’ve actually covered a couple of them in the past – Japan’s Okinawa island and Ikaria, Greece’s island of longevity. However, there are places famous for the longevity of the local population that are not officially categorized as blue zones. One such place is Lerik, a region in the Talysh Mountains of southern Azerbaijan, famous for its high number of centenarians and even the world’s only Longevity Museum.

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The World’s Highest ATM Sits Atop a 4,693-Meter-Tall Mountaintop

The highest-altitude cash machine in the world is located at the Khunjerab Pass border between China and Pakistan, at an elevation of 4,693 meters.

Over the past few decades, the ATM has become one of the world’s most ubiquitous pieces of technology, but you wouldn’t expect to see one while trekking through the snow-covered mountains of Pakistan, now would you? And yet, the Khunjerab Pass border pass in Pakistan’s northern Gilgit-Baltistan province is home to the world’s highest fully-functional ATM. Installed by the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) in 2016, the solar- and wind-powered cash machine is a truly unusual sight to behold in such an isolated place as Khunjerab Pass, the highest paved border crossing in the world.

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This Man-Made Mound in Rome Consists of Millions of Ancient Amphorae

Monte Testaccio, an artificial mound in Rome composed almost entirely of broken pottery, might be the largest trash heap in the ancient world.

At first glance, Monte Testaccio looks like an ordinary greenery-covered mound, the likes of which can be found all over the world. But underneath all that shrubbery and the thin layer of dirt that supports it lies the largest pile of discarded pottery in the history of the ancient world. Covering an area of 2 hectares and with a volume of approximately 580,000 cubic meters, Monte Testaccio consists almost exclusively of millions of broken ancient pottery containers known as amphorae. It is estimated that this man-made mound consists of  53 million amphorae, which would make it the largest trash heap in the ancient world.

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The Highest Tides in Europe Are Quite a Sight to Behold

Saint Malo, a historic French port on the English Channel coast, is famous for having the highest tides in Europe, with breakwater defenses barely keeping giant waves from slamming into residential buildings.

Seeing Saint Malo at low tide and then again at high tide is like looking at two completely different towns. The buildings and the way they are laid out are the same, but the existence of a beach as wide as the eye can see at one point, and the complete lack thereof just a few hours later is truly strange. And not only does the ocean come in hard at high tide, but it’s strong as well, with giant waves pounding against the waterfront and splashing up to the top of exposed buildings.

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Khunzakh – Literally Living on the Edge in Dagestan

The ancient village of Khunzakh, in Dagestan, is literally perched on the edge of a deep canyon, making it one of the most awe-inspiring human settlements in the world.

Before Khabib Nurmagomedov took the MMA world by storm and became the undisputed champion of the UFC Lightweight Division, most people hadn’t even heard of Dagestan. Today, it’s almost associated with the legendary mixed martial arts master, but the Russian autonomous republic is actually home to a number of wonders that the world has yet to discover. Today, we’re featuring Khunzakh, a very old village with a very unique location – right on the edge of a 100-meter-deep canyon.

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This European Football Stadium Has an Active Railway Track Passing Right Through It

Slovakian amateur football club TJ Tatran Cierny Balog prides itself on having one of the most unique stadiums in the world, complete with a railway track and a steam engine running straight through it.

Cierny Balog, a small Slovakian town of about 5,100 people, has become somewhat of a tourist spot in the last seven years or so, and it was all thanks to its football stadium. In 2015, a video of a steam engine passing through the stadium, on tracks positioned right between the field and the only existing grandstand went viral online, leaving a lot of people scratching their heads. Was it CGI, was it just part of a one-time event, or was there actually a train regularly passing right through the stadium? Well, as weird as it sounds, that last one was actually correct. The Čiernohronska Railway goes right through Cierny Balog stadium, and a steam-powered tourist train passes through it all summer long.

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Europe’s Longest Ice Road Has a Weird Speed Limit And Wearing a Seatbelt Is Forbidden

Estonia is home to the longest official ice road in Europe, a 25-km-long stretch of frozen ice along the country’s coast, where it’s illegal to wear a seatbelt and drive at medium speed.

It might seem a bit bizarre to be covering a topic like ice roads in the middle of a particularly hot month of August, but it’s a slow day, so we write ’em as we find ’em. Today we’re talking about the longest ice road in Europe, a frozen stretch of the Baltic Sea connecting the Estonian coastline to the island of Hiiumaa. Driving on this particular ice road in winter is said to be an “unforgettable experience,” but if you plan on adding it to your bucket list, you should know it has some rather unconventional driving rules. You can’t drive here after sunset, and wearing a seatbelt is illegal, as is driving at speeds between 25 and 40km/h (16-25mph).

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Chichibugahama – Japan’s Instafamous Mirror Beach

Chichibugahama Beach is a popular tourist destination in Mitoyo City, Japan which rose to fame thanks to photo-sharing social media platforms like Instagram.

If you ever find ourself doubting the power of social media, just remember the story of Chichibugahama Beach. A once obscure seaside destination in Japan’s Kagawa Prefecture, this place turned into a magnet for Instagram influencers virtually overnight. It all started in 2016 when authorities in Mitoyo City organized a photo competition to boost local tourism. One of the most eye-catching entries featured two children reflected in the shallow waters of Chichibugahama, and the visual effect was so stunning that the idea of using this mirror effect as a tourist draw turned into a marketing success story.

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Tekesi County – China’s Unique Bagua-Shaped City

Built according to the “Bagua”, or the Eight Trigrams used in Taoist cosmology, Tekesi County has a unique and eye-catching layout that allegedly renders traffic lights obsolete.

Bagua represents the fundamental principles of reality, seen as a range of eight interrelated concepts. It is a complex concept of Taoist cosmology which also has correspondences in astronomy, geography, anatomy, martial arts, medicine, and other disciplines. It’s also an essential tool in the majority of Feng Shui schools, used to map a room or location and see how the different sections correspond to different aspects in one’s life. But one thing the Bagua isn’t really used for is city planning; with one notable exception – Tekesi County, a city of 150,000 people in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

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Ancient Wonder – The 1,600-Year-Old Iron Pillar That Refuses to Rust

The Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque complex in New Delhi is home to an ancient wonder of metal work – a 1,600-year-old iron pillar that is exceptionally resistant to rust.

The Iron Pillar of Qutub Minar, as this ancient monument is sometimes referred to, measures 7.21-meters-tall, has a diameter of 41 centimeters and weighs about 6 tons. It’s also more than a millennium and a half old, believed to have been erected during the reign of Chandragupta II, one of the most powerful emperors of the Gupta Empire. And even though it has spent all that time outdoors, the Pillar of Qutub Minar shows almost no sign of rust damage. For decades, scientists and metal workers from all over the world speculated about the properties of this unusual marvel, and it wasn’t until 2003 that the mystery was finally cracked.

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