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The Doll-Hospital of Lisbon

If your favorite doll suffered serious damaged that you can’t fix yourself, jump on a plane to Lisbon and take it to the Doll Hospital. They’ll fix it right up.

Located in Figueira Square, Lisbon, the Doll Hospital has been “treating” dolls since 1830 and it’s not going to go out of business anytime soon. Equipped with an emergency and operating rooms, this bizarre establishment has experienced doll doctors and a wide range of spare parts, in case you’re doll needs something replaced.

If people ever stop having their dolls repaired, the Doll Hospital of Lisbon will donate its entire collection of abandoned dolls and spare parts to a local museum. I’m sure they’d fit better on The Island of the Dolls, but…

Photos by REUTERS

via Xinhua

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The Grotto of the Redemption

The Grotto of the Redemption is an excellent example of what man can achieve with faith and hard work.

Paul Dobberstein was a German immigrant ordained as a priest in 1897. At some point he fell critically  ill with pneumonia and vowed he would dedicate his life to building a shrine to The Virgin Mary, if she would save his life. Father Dobberstein survived and soon after his recovery began gathering piles of rocks for his mission. His search for materials lasted 14 years.

Construction of the Grotto of the Redemption, in West Bend, Iowa,  began in 1912. Foundations were poured, stone slabs were set into place, all in the name of The Holy Virgin. Father Dobberson was actively involved in the building process and many times his hands would crack and bleed from all the cement. He would say “there isn’t any redemption without a little blood”.

Though West Bend isn’t the best place to look for crystals and semi-precious stones, Paul Dobberstein traveled to Hot Springs, Black Hills and Carlsbad Caverns and managed to gather truckloads of materials for his Grotto of the Redemption. The redeeming priest worked on expanding and improving the grotto until he died, in 1954, at the end of a long day’s work.

At the time of Dobberstein’s death, the Grotto of the Redemption was the size of a city block and is still expanding today. The crystals, semi-precious stones and petrified wood used to decorate the structures of the grotto are said to be worth over $4,300,000.

Considered “the world’s most complete man-made collection of minerals, fossils, shells and petrifications in one place”, the Grotto of the Redemption welcomes over 100,000 visitors every year. It reminds me a lot of the Ideal Palace.

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Cakeland – A Sweet Illusion

Do you know those dreams that start out all nice and dandy only they turn into horrible nightmares in the end? That’s sort of what Cakeland is like.

Cakeland is an art installation in Oakland, created to look like a delicious collection of cakes. Featuring cakes placed on tables, stacked on top of other cakes, mounted on walls and even hanging from the ceiling, Cakeland literally looks like heaven for sweet addicts. But alas Scott Hove’s cakes are anything but edible. Unlike the regular treats that last only until celebrations end, Cakeland cakes are made from acrylic, wood and cardboard and will last “as long as the artist or society have the wherewithal to preserve them”.

But that’s not the worst part of our nightmare. In order to protect their delicious beauty, the artists equipped some of the cakes with sharp teeth that act as defense. Hove says “without this aggressive aspect– call it the anti-cake– the beauty is vulnerable, transitory, and not to be respected”.

Cakeland is a very interesting place, but unlike Scott Hove who sees it as a pilgrimage site away from the problems of reality, some might consider it torture. After all finding yourself surrounded by seemingly delicious cakes, without the possibility of even tasting them can be a grueling experience.

Cakeland

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Japan’s Famous Wine Spa Reopened

Located in Kowakien Yunessun, the biggest, most popular spa center in Japan, the outdoor has opened its gates once again.

Hundreds of gallons of Beaujolais Nouveau, the most popular wine in Japan, are used during the 12 day period the wine spa welcomes its guests. Four the last four years, Japanese wine lovers have had the opportunity to drink and bathe in the liquor they love so much, at the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun.

The red pool is constantly fed wine through the wine-bottle-shaped spring, while a sommelier stands by to fill up the glasses of those craving some more Beaujolais Nouveau.

Apart from a wine pool, the spa center also features a sake spa, green tea spa and coffee spa, where clients can bathe in the drinks mentioned.

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Mexico’s Island of the Dolls Is Beyond Creepy

Known as “La Isla de la Munecas”, by the Spanish, The Island of the Dolls is perhaps the creepiest tourist attraction in Mexico. Located within an extensive network of canals, south of Mexico City, the island is a place of mystery and superstition.

Almost every tree growing on the island is decorated with old, mutilated dolls that give anyone the feeling that they’re constantly being watched. The story behind the Island of the Dolls began when a hermit by the name of Don Julian Santana moved here. Although he was married he chose to live the last 50 years of his life alone.

Don Julian used to say he was haunted by the ghost of the little girl who had drowned in one of the canals around the island. Some say he used to fish the dolls from the water because he though they were real children, but the truth is he was collecting and placing them around his home as a shrine for the spirit that tormented him. At one point he even traded home grown fruit and vegetables for old dolls.

Ironically, in 2001 Don Julian Santana was found dead by his nephew, in the same canal that he said the little girl drowned in. Now his Island of the Dolls is one of the world’s weirdest tourist attractions. Some tourists who visited this place claim the dolls whisper and you must offer them a gift upon setting foot on the island, to appease their spirits.

via Bizarre

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China’s Kingdom Of The Dwarves

Over 100 height-challenged Chinese people perform in a show called Kingdom Of The Dwarves, close to Kunming, Yunnan Province.

Casting for the Kingdom Of The Dwarves show took place last summer, with only two conditions stipulated: the performers had to be between 18 and 40 years old and be shorter than 130 cm (4’3″). No other special skills were required. Now they take the stage of the Kunming World Butterflies Garden twice a day, singing, dancing and performing comedy sketches to entertain the crowds.

I know it looks like exploitation and discrimination, but the short performers see it only as another form of migrant labor and a haven away from people who mock and tease them on a daily basis. With discrimination and unemployment still high in China, the little people saw the Kingdom Of The Dwarves as an opportunity.

Just to clear things up, this is just a profitable theme park, not a community formed by the dwarves themselves as a shelter, and the mushroom houses only serve as decor and changing rooms, not as living quarters.

Photos by REUTERS

via Telegraph.co.uk

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The Story of the Cardrona Bra Fence

The Cardrona Bra Fence was one of the most bizarre tourist attractions in New Zealand. Located in Central Otago, it was admired by some, but considered an eyesore by others.

The famous fence was born on Christmas of 1999, when 4 bras were discovered hanging on the fence. Word spread fast and, by the end of February, 60 bras were dancing in the wind, at Cardrona. They were soon removed, but news of the Bra Fence spread fast and by the year 2000, over 200 bras covered the fence. Once again, the bras just disappeared, but by 2006 over 800 women underwear garments were hanging in the wind.

While some of the locals were grateful for this offbeat tourist attraction, some landowners found the Cardrona Bra Fence vulgar and made attempts to have it removed. Because it was located on public road reserve, the local council declared the fence a traffic hazard and ordered the bras removed.

Though it no longer exists, the story of the Cardrona Bra Fence won’t soon be forgotten and thankfully, there are some photos around the interwebs:

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Watts Tower – One Man’s Dream Turned Reality

“I had in mind to do something big and I did it.” That’s what Simon Rodia said about his work.

Designed by Italian immigrant Sabato (Simon) Rodia, Watts Towers are a famous example of vernacular architecture, located in the Watts district, Los Angeles. The talented construction worker spent all his spare time, between 1921 and 1954, working on this collection of 17 interconnected steel towers. The amateur structures are made from steel rods wrapped in wire and coated in mortar.

Rodia decorated his architectural masterpieces with found stuff, like bottle caps, seashells, broken glass and pottery. Children from all over the neighborhood would search for pieces of glass and bring it to Simon Rodia, in hope their findings would be included in his project.

Unfortunately, the talented Italian didn’t get along with his neighbors and he’d often find his Watts Towers vandalized. One day, sick of all the abuse, he left and never came back. In the following years his work became more and more popular, but the towers were about to be teared down by the city, when community activists formed the Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts and managed to save them.

Nowadays, Watts Towers is a Historical Park.

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Golden Rock – Nature’s Balancing Act

The gold-covered granite boulder perched atop a stone pedestal known as Golden Rock,  is one of the most breathtaking sights in Burma.

The third most sacred place in Burma, after Schwedagon Pagoda and Mahamuni Pagoda, Golden Rock lies at the top of Mount Kyaiktiyo, in Mon State. It is completely covered with gold leaves layered by Buddhist devotees and is topped by a 5.5 meters-tall pagoda.

Legend has it Buddha, on one of his travels on Earth, gave a strand of his hair to a hermit, who with his dying breath asked his son Tissa to enshrine the lock in a boulder shaped like his head. The child later became King of Burma and fulfilled his father’s wish by placing the divine gift in a boulder on Mount Kyaiktiyo. Burmese Buddhists believe it’s the strand of hair that keeps Golden Rock in place, defying gravity.

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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.

Berkeley-Pit

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