The World's Most Mysterious Places
The World's Most Mysterious Places
Updated on August 02, 2022 16:13 PM by Laura Mendes
From energized rocks in the center of the Australian Outback to Stephen King-inspired creepy hotels, the mansions of famous vamps, and off-the-beaten-path groves of deformed trees in the depths of Slavic Europe, this list of the world's most strange places to visit is guaranteed to pique your interest. There should be plenty to do if you're a conspiracy theorist, a determined UFO hunter, a Nosferatu lover, a medium, or a supernatural aficionado - or even if you just want to go away from the tourist route for something a bit different.
Some locations are ideal for folks with strange and beautiful interests in the otherworldly, while others will have you jumping out of your skin. Some are just unique places to visit, while everything here promises mystery in spades.
The Bermuda Triangle, Atlantic Ocean
For years, stories of lost seafarers and vanished ships crashed planes, and even missing persons have emerged from the waters of the Bermuda Triangle. The huge area of more than 500,000 square miles is also known as the Devil's Triangle, and stories abound as to why so many tourists fall victim to its grips.
Some believe magnetic anomalies cause compasses to deviate; some believe tropical cyclones are to blame, while others believe there is no mystery! Today, visiting the area may be much more enjoyable than you might assume, with the sun-kissed islands of Turks and Caicos in the south and Bermuda's bays in the north.
The Banff Springs Hotel, Canada
The Banff Springs Hotel in Canada is supposed to be the location of a profusion of ghost stories and weird incidents, with hints of Stephen King's Timberline Lodge and Stanley Kubrick's The Shining fame. Locals relate stories about a whole family being murdered in cold blood in room 873. Others have reported reappearing doormen, who then vanish into thin air. But if you think you can handle the supernatural reputation, you're in for a beautiful treat. The elegant hotel exudes Scottish Baronial flair, is surrounded by the fir-clad peaks of the Canadian Rockies, and provides access to the famed ski areas of Jasper and Banff.
The spooky aura of this vast territory at the very heart of Romania is enhanced by sylvan hills and mist-topped mountains, the altering echo of church bells, and the stone-built medieval steeples of towns like Sibiu, Brasov, and Cluj. But there's one site that really sends chills up your spine: Bran Castle.
In a mix of Gothic towers and gargoyle-peppered roofs, this turret-topped castle soars from the forests on the outskirts of Wallachia. It's been associated with a number of less-than-savory, uber-mysterious figures over the years, including Vlad the Impaler, the most bloodthirsty of the Wallachian kings, and Count Dracula, the archetype of the nail-biting Nosferatu.
Crooked Forest, Poland
For years, a small cluster of just over 400 pine trees has piqued the interest of Atlas Obscura types and off-the-beaten-path tourists just south of the unpronounceable city of Szczecin on Poland's powerful eastern haunch, a stone's throw west of the border with Germany. The entire forest looks to have bent nearly 90 degrees at the trunk before straightening out and climbing vertically towards the Slavic sky. The source of the unique wood's appearance has been debated, with hypotheses ranging from severe snowstorms to lumberjack growing tactics.
Bhangarh Fort, India
The historic bulwarks of the Bhangarh Fort, encircled by the rises of the Aravali Hills and roasted by the Rajasthani sun, are supposed to resonate with the ghostly presence of one cursed princess and her would-be captor, the sorcerer Sinha. Sinha is reported to have sought to seduce the young queen by offering her a love potion. The scheme backfired, and the magician died, but not before he could cast his jinx on all the people of Bhangarh. Today, the Mughlai compound, formerly walked by Madho Singh I is regarded as one of India's most haunted locations.
The Skirrid Mountain Inn, Wales
The Skirrid Mountain Inn overflows with tales and legends of the Gaelic nation's past, nestled between rising fells and lichen-spotted stone settlements on the eastern fringe of the picturesque Brecon Beacons National Park (Wales' lesser-known southern mountain region). According to legend, it was the meeting place for rebel troops under the banner of Owain Glyndwr, the hero of Welsh resistance against Henry IV. Others suggest it was formerly a courthouse where prisoners were not only sentenced to death but also hung, all under the authority of the infamous Hanging Judge, George Jeffreys. Inside, there's even a swinging noose dangling from the rafters and plenty of ghost stories to attend to over your cawl (traditional Welsh soup)!
The Tower of London, England
Between the crenulations of London's historic castle on the north bank, kings have been beheaded, state adversaries have been imprisoned, and political machinations from the Tudors to the Elizabethans have been plotted. The sighting of Thomas Becket (a martyred saint), who is claimed to have halted the building of the palace's extension from the grave, sparked stories of hauntings and unexplained incidents. The most notable apparition is that of Queen Anne Boleyn, whose headless form is seen lurking near the location where she was murdered at the request of Henry VII in the 1530s! Inside, there's even a swinging noose dangling from the rafters and plenty of ghost stories to be told.
Eternal Flame Falls, United States
Discover the hidden splendor of Shale Creek by exploring the winding walking routes that traverse Chestnut Ridge Park. This strange natural phenomenon, appropriately named Eternal Flame Falls, is a true mystery to behold. Why? Because it manages to combine two of the earth's most extraordinary elemental energies in a single location! You'll first notice the stunning falls cascading down over chiseled granite rock layers. The flame can then be seen flickering behind cataracts.
Richat Structure, Mauritania
The vast Richat Structure in Mauritania's depths is genuinely enigmatic, seemingly swirling, spinning, and twisting like a cyclone across the center of the mighty Sahara Desert (albeit you'll have to take to the skies to see it!). For years, scientists have wondered how the perfect circular set of concentric rings came to be. Some believe it was caused by an asteroid collision centuries ago. Others claim it was caused by normal geological attrition and erosion. Then, some believe it was the work of extra-terrestrials who went through this area and left a landing site for future trips to Earth.
The Nazca Lines, Peru
The Nazca Lines, which scar the dry desert landscapes of southern Peru, are among South America's most perplexing and unique prehistoric relics. And while they sometimes take a back place to the country's other major tourist draws - Machu Picchu, The Sacred Valley, and Cuzco - they do receive a fair proportion of visitors. Most people choose to fly over the wonders and see them from above, which is when the strange geoglyphs portraying spiders and monkeys come into full view. No one knows why the ancient Nazca people created these UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Highgate Cemetery, England
If you want to cross the creeping vines, ivy shoots, imposing oak trees, and lichen-spotted tombstones of London's Highgate Cemetery be warned: it is widely regarded as the most haunted location in the United Kingdom (Tower of London omitted, of course). With age-old angelic figures hidden among the shadow growth, gargoyles grinning from the cracks, and countless rows of tombs running into the distance, the setting is undoubtedly enough to curdle the blood. Some ghost hunters claim to have witnessed apparitions fluttering among the Gothic carvings.
Area 51, United States
Area 51, more than any other location on this list, has captivated UFO investigators and extra-terrestrial aficionados for years - it even appeared in Roland Emmerich's alien-rich masterpiece Independence Day back in 1996! The site, which is smack dab in the middle of the Nevada desert, has been kept a top-notch secret by the US government since it began constructing observation and spy planes in the 1950s. Speculation today ranges from a public monitoring hub to a weather control station to a time travel station. Expect no visitor center or anything, but then again, Vegas is just down the road!
Easter Island, Polynesia
The Rapa Nui peoples of eastern Polynesia landed and began examining the wind-blasted coastlines of Easter Island around the turn of the first millennium AD. Of course, it wasn't called Easter Island back then; the name was added later by Dutchman Jacob Roggeveen, who found the island in 1722. What he encountered would have no doubt astounded him: innumerable carved effigies of enormous heads chiseled and chipped from the land's black rock rocks. In fact, there are over 880 so-called moai heads here, each of which is said to represent the last member of one of the tribal family clans.
Stonehenge, located deep in the green lowlands of south-central England, where Salisbury Plain emerges from the oak trees in peaks and troughs of heath, has long exuded mystery and wonder. This circular aggregation of giant megalith stones is said to have been created 5,000 years ago with a rare bluestone substance that could only have been quarried from the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire, some 200 miles away in Wales. The function of the construction, as well as how the Neolithic people managed to move such massive stone all that far, remain a mystery. It is now shrouded in Arthurian legends and draws Pagans for the summer solstice.
Uluru is a massive pillar in the center of Australia's Outback. It towers over the flatlands surrounding it, a massive slab of sandstone rock resembling the carapace of a petrified animal. It is a genuinely gorgeous location that draws everyone from hikers to history buffs (who come mainly for the pre-historic petroglyphs that mark the caves nearby). However, Ayers Rock, as it is often known, serves as a focal point for the ancient traditions of the Australian Aborigines. They say it is one of the last remaining dwellings of the creator beings who created the earth. Meanwhile, some come here to recharge their batteries in the fluvial channels that run beneath the rock - whatever that means!