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Spanish Couple Have Lived Alone in Abandoned Village for the Last 45 Years

For the past 45 years, Martin and Sinforosa Colomer have been the only two residents of La Estrella, an abandoned village in Spain. The only living beings they have for company are three dogs, four hens, a rooster, about 25 cats, and a few bees. The closest inhabited town is at least 25 kilometers away!

It’s a strange way to live, without any human contact, almost like they’re the last two people on earth. But the tiny village was not always this isolated. It was once bustling with life, with hundreds of inhabitants, a church, two schoolhouses, and several bars. In fact, La Estrella has an interesting past – legend has it that the village was constructed exclusively for the mistresses of many wealthy men.

According to various sources, a torrential storm in 1883 killed nearly half the inhabitants and destroyed at least 17 houses. The village square, vicarage and church remained unharmed, and a memorial was erected for all those who died. The place lost its charm after that and locals slowly began to abandon their homes.

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Spanish Comedy Club Charges Customers Based on the Number of Times They Laugh

The Teatreneu comedy club in Barcelona has come up with an innovative way of charging customers; they’re calling it ‘Pay-Per-Laugh’. The concept is as simple as it sounds – the club has reduced its entry fee to zero, and instead, users are charged every time they laugh. A special facial-recognition software helps track the exact number of laughs per customer.

The bizarre idea is actually an experiment in partnership with advertising agency The Cyranos McCann – it was set up in response to increased government taxes on theatrical performances from 8% to 21%, which led to a 30% drop in audience members in just one year. So Teatreneu decided to look at the situation with humor, and that’s how pay-per-laugh was born. Each seat is fitted with a facial recognition system that detects the smiles of the person seated behind. Entrance is free, and if the show produces no laughs, customers don’t pay anything. But if they do, each smile is charged 0.30 euros with an upper cap of 24 euros.

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Spanish Town Installs World’s First Public Toilet for Dogs

A small town in Spain has come up with a new way of dealing with dog waste – a canine public toilet. Located along a busy thoroughfare in El Vendrell, northeastern Spain, the stainless steel contraption consists of two sections placed side by side – a doggy potty and a doggy urinal.

The potty is a raised steel platform with a covered hole. Dog owners need to lift the lid for their pets to defecate, and later press a handle to flush. Jets of water are released, which carry the excrement through underground pipes into the sewer system. Right next to the potty is the urinal – also a raised platform with small holes over which dogs can squat. The public toilet is the brainchild of dog-lover Enric Girona, who has spent over ten years observing and photographing dogs. Through his work, he recognized the need for a toilet for dogs, so he set about creating one himself. “Over the years, I’ve seen that if you train and raise dogs well, these animals can be just like humans,” he explained.

Girona invented several variants of the toilet, modifying each one as he learned more and more about dog behavior. The present version of the urinal, for example, doesn’t clean itself perfectly when flushing, because need to pick the odor so they are lured to the toilet. He also had the location in mind while designing these toilets, so they’d naturally blend into surroundings like parks and other public places. “You can’t have something that clashes with the setting,” he pointed out. “The design was done with the concept of being attractive.”

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Caga Tio – Catalonia’s Wacky Present-Pooping Christmas Log

Caga Tio is a Christmas tradition in the Catalonian region of Spain. Caga is pronounced caca, and it means ‘poop’. Tio means ‘tree trunk’ or ‘uncle’. So it is basically a tradition of the pooping tree trunk. What does the trunk poop? Why gifts, of course!

The Caga Tio is a small log of wood with a painted face and two front legs. It makes an appearance in homes every year on the 8th of December, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Children keep the log as a pet until Christmas, feeding it and keeping it warm. They believe the log will grow if they feed it properly.

There is no such thing as a growing log, of course. The parents actually replace the logs every few days with larger ones. It’s easy for families who live in the country; they just go outside, find a piece of wood and paint a face on it. Urban parents have a tougher time. They have to trek into the woods to find larger Caga Tios. But mostly they just buy new ones from shops. The Caga Tio is done growing by Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The full grown log is placed in the center of the living room and covered with a large red blanket. Children gather around, sing songs and hit the Caga Tio with sticks repeatedly, until it ‘poops’ out the presents. Earlier, the tradition was to place the log partially in fire, ordering it to defecate. There aren’t many modern households with fireplaces anymore, so now it’s just down to hitting the log.

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Former Monk Has Spent the Last 50 Years Building a Giant Junk Cathedral in the Name of God

Justo Gallego Martinez, an 86-year-old farmer from Spain, has spent the last 50 years of his life single-handedly building a large cathedral in a suburb of Madrid, without any architectural knowledge or construction experience.

Considering the sheer size of Justo Gallego’s junk cathedral, almost 40 meters (131 feet) tall, with its large dome and spires towering over nearby apartment buildings, it’s almost impossible to believe it’s the work of a single man. But it just goes to show how far people can stretch their limits in the name of a higher purpose. In Gallego’s case, it was his faith and love of God. His mother was very pious and he grew up with a deep Christian faith and an overwhelming desire to dedicate himself to the Creator. After working as a farmer and as a bullfighter, Don Justo, as everyone calls him, joined a Trappist monastery, where he spent eight years as a monk. He was forced to leave the monastery in 1961, after he contracted tuberculosis, but promised himself that if he survived the illness he would dedicate his life to building a  a chapel in the name of the Lady of The Pillar (the Blessed Virgin Marry), who he prayed to during the ordeal. His prayers were answered and he stayed true to his vow, laying the first brick of what would become a unique cathedral, almost 50 years ago.

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Danza de los Zancos – The Whirling Stilt Dancers of Anguiano

Walking on stilts is a daunting task for most people, but for the skilled “danzatores” of Anguiano, Spain, it’s a regular walk in the park. During the annual Danza de los Zancos celebration they take to the streets on wooden stilts measuring some 50 centimeters, and spin rapidly down the town’s steepest alleyways. They risk breaking their necks or smashing their heads against the cobbled pavement to honor La Magdalena (Mary Magdalene).

Every year, on July 22, the town of Anguino hosts one of the oldest, most fascinating fiestas in Spain, the Danza de los Zancos (Stilt Dance). In honor of Mary Magdalene, one of the most popular saints in this part of the country, eight brave and morally upright boys from the oldest families in Anguiano put on brightly colored vests, white shirts and damask yellow skirts, and dance on 50-cm-high wooden stilts. And I don’t mean just bouncing from one foot to another, but whirling at high speeds on steep and narrow alleys with nothing but a human mattress of spectators to catch them if they lose their balance. Did I mention they clap their castanets at the same time?

Danza-de-los-Zancos

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Revelers Throw Dead Rats at Each Other as Part of Bizarre Spanish Festival

Having a dead rat thrown straight in the face might not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but for the people of El Puig, the yearly Battle of the Rats is an eagerly awaited event. During the bizarre celebration, people pick up frozen rat corpses and throw them at each other in the name of fun.

Every year, on the last Sunday of January, the town of El Puig, north of Valencia, hosts the Batalla de Ratas, or Battle of the Rats, one of the weirdest fiestas in Spain. Locals and tourists from all over the world gather in the main square to bash cucañas, a kind of local piñada. Sounds like a fun time, only there’s a catch – the goodies in half of these colorful cucañas include dead rats. Instead of running away in disgust at the sight of rodent corpses falling to the ground, festival goers rush to pick them up and throw them at the crowd. If you’ve been hit by a dead rat, it’s customary to grab it and throw it back at your attacker. It’s a good thing we’re not in the Middle Ages anymore, and the bubonic plague is nearly extinct, but still, I can’t help but think there’s something really unhygienic about throwing rats at people. In their defense, the people of El Puig only use frozen and previously-prepared corpses of humanely-killed rats.

Battle of the rats

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Scary Mother Nature – Giant Wasp Nest Housing Millions of Stingers Found in Abandoned House

Just one wasp hovering around is enough to make people go crazy with fear, so i can’t imagine what the people of San Sebastián de La Gomera, in the Canary islands, must have felt like when they discovered a 21-foot wasp nest housing millions of stingers, right next to their homes.

The unusually large hive was discovered by local police officers after they had received numerous calls from concerned members of the community regarding large numbers of wasps swarming around an uninhabited house in San Sebastián de La Gomera. After breaking into the abandoned building they were shocked to discover a giant wasp nest in the hallway that experts say is home to millions of aggressive stingers. Measuring no less than 7 meters in size, the gargantuan structure doesn’t seem to have been built by the common type of wasp found in European gardens, but by an invasive species that must have migrated from Africa. The Canary Islands are located less than 100 kilometers from Morocco by water, so that’s a very likely scenario. Police have been unable to locate the owner of the house, but they’ve sealed off the place for safety reasons, until they determine how to best handle the problem. How about “kill it with fire”?!?

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Colomares Castle – An Enchanting Masterpiece Dedicated to Christopher Columbus

Boasting a combination of Byzantine, Roman, Gothic and Mudejar architectural styles, Colomares Castle, in the Spanish town of Benalmadena is a unique monument that pays homage to explorer Christopher Columbus.

Looking at this fairy-tale castle with all its exquisite details, you could never guess it was built by a doctor with no architectural background, and two local brick layers. Esteban Martin, M.D., spent seven years working on Colombares Castle, from 1987 to 1994, trying to create a marvelous monument honoring Christopher Columbus and the discovery of America. For the good doctor building the castle was a labor of love, undertaken in his spare time. He tried to combine all these different architectural styles and at the same time include various elements relating to Christopher Columbus and his historic journey, like finely carved representations of the three ships that made the trip to America. In the end, he manged to construct the largest monument dedicated to the Genovese explorer, covering an area of 1,500 square meters. At the same time, Colomares Castle made into the Guinness Book of Records for hosting the world’s tiniest chapel, just 1.96 square meters in size.

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Serafin Villarán, the Man Who Built His Own Castle

Located in Cebolleros, a small community in the province of Burgos, northern Spain, Castillo de las Cuevas, or Castle of Caves, is the result of one man’s ambition and determination. Serafin Villarán dreamed of having his very own castle, and he single-handedly turn his dream into a reality.

Born in 1935, in the town of Burgos, Serafin was a simple man, working as a welder in a local factory. He didn’t have much experience in construction, until that day in 1977 when he got the idea to build himself a fairy-tale castle. He was 42 years old, yet he decided to follow his dream of create a castle-shaped home for him and his family. He bought a piece of land, and without any real architectural knowledge began working on his masterpiece. He mainly used rounded stones which he collected from the nearby rivers Nela and Trueba, and fixed them together with concrete to give his Castillo de las Cuevas an authentic look. Construction began without a preconceived plan, and according to his family he relied only on his imagination and books on Spanish castles as inspiration.

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El Bosc de les Fades – Barcelona’s Fairy Tale Cafe

If you’re looking for an other-worldly experience in the Catalonian city of Barcelona, look no further than El Bosc de les Fades (The Fairies’ Forest), a unique cafe decorated as an esoteric land of fairies.

Tucked away off Las Ramblas, on Pasatje Banca next to the Wax Museum, El Bosc de les Fades is one of the most unusual attractions of Barcelona. As the name suggests, this offbeat venue was inspired by a fairy forest, complete with an artificial woodland of snaking branches, trickling waterfalls, will-o-the-wisp lights, weird demons lurking in mirrors, various optical illusions  and, of course, fairies. It’s kitschy, yet original, and most people enjoy the novelty of it. The main room of the cafe offers plenty of seats under the lush artificial vegetation, or at the bar that’s also been decorated to fit the fairy tale theme, but for visitors who want the full-immersion effect of this place, there’s the private grotto where they can get lost in the very depths of the mysterious forest. And if you’re looking for a creepier fantasy setting, El Bosc de les Fades also features a “haunted house” room complete with eerie mannequins and a magic mirror in which apparitions suddenly appear and then vanish again.

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Unique Spanish Festival Celebrates Near Death Experiences

Did you manage to survive a near death experience during the past year? Well then, congratulation, you’ve earned the privilege of being placed in a coffin and paraded through the streets of Las Nieves, as part of a festival called La Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme.

The small town of Las Nieves is located in the isolated northwest part of Spain called Galicia, where pagan rites have been a part of local culture since anyone can remember. Although it has tried very hard over the centuries, the Catholic Church has never been able to fully integrate their teachings here, and witches or evil spirits still exist in people’s spiritual beliefs. La Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme is one of the Church’s attempts to adapt its dogma to the region’s more primitive beliefs, a sort of “Catholicism meets Paganism” type of event which has often been labeled as one of the most outrageous religious pilgrimages in the world. The unique event that takes place every year on July 29 celebrates those who have managed to cheat death in the previous 12 months by placing them in coffins and parading them through the town, and honors Saint Marta de Ribarteme, the patron of resurrection. Read More »

Robin Hood Mayor Robs Supermarkets and Gives to the Poor

The story of Robin Hood and his merry men is centuries old, but even in this modern age their example is as popular as ever. In the Andalucia region of Spain the roles of outlaws are nowadays played by a village mayor and a group of Socialist extremists, who instead of rich royalty rob local supermarkets and give the loot to the poor.

Andalucia was hit particularly hard by the international economic crisis and the collapse of the construction industry. The whole of Spain is struggling, but in this region the unemployment rate has reached 34% and some people have difficulties even putting food on the table. The dire situation inspired a group of members from the Andalucia Workers Union, led by Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo, a member of the regional parliament for the United Left party in Andalucia and mayor of the village of Marinaleda in southern Spain, to stage Robin Hood-style attacks on local supermarkets to get food for the needy. Although authorities see this kind of acts as crimes, Sanchez Gordillo and his modern merry men are heroes to the Spanish poor, who welcome the food products with open arms.

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Playa de Gulpiyuri – A Strange Beach in the Middle of a Meadow

Tucked away into a small inland hollow, right in the middle of a meadow, Playa de Gulpiyuri is one of the most amazing beaches in the world.

We’ve certainly featured some unique places here, on Oddity Central, and even a few incredible beaches, like the hot water beach of New Zealand or California’s glass beach, but none like the beach of Gulpiyuri. Located near the charming town of Llanes, on the northern coast of Spain, Gulpiyuri Beach is unlike anything I have ever seen, or even imagined existed outside of fantasy books or fictional planets. Imagine walking over 100 meters from the sea shoreline and stumbling over a small charming beach right in the middle of a green meadow. And while you may find other beaches completely hidden from the open sea, around the world, this one is actually fully tidal and even has waves bathing the small strip of golden sand.

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Disaster Café – Where Every Meal Comes with a 7.8 Earthquake

If a 7.8 earthquake happened during lunch time, most of us would forget about food and run for our lives, but at the Disaster Café, in Lloret de Mar, Spain, quakes happen all the time, and all you can do is try to keep your balance and hope drinks don’t get spilled.

Normally, people are terrified of earthquakes, but at the Disaster Café, people actually pay to experience a simulated 7.8 quake while they enjoy a tasty meal. I’ve never been, but according to online customer reviews, the place is so popular you actually need to make reservations in advance, in order to be get a table. I guess people’s appetite for disaster is stronger than I thought.

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