Forget the traditional iconic tourist attractions. To see a whole other side to a city, check out these strange, weird, and downright creepy sights. Featuring everything from cockroaches to gnomes, these attractions are sure to send a shiver down your spine.
The Gnome Reserve, Devon, England
You may have seen animal reserves before, but what about a home for garden gnomes? The Gnome Reserve in Devon, England, has more than 1,000 gnomes scattered free-range-style around the park’s four acres. (The antique gnomes are confined to the on-site museum.) Visitors can pose for pictures with the statues, using the provided fishing rods and gnome hats to blend in. Dogs are welcome to visit, but they must be on leashes so they don’t scare the gnomes.
Sewer Museum, Paris, France
Go underneath the beauty of Paris—deep into the city’s bowels. The Sewer Museum (Le Musee des Egouts de Paris) offers a firsthand look into the sewage system of The City of Light. Educational exhibits are located atop grated walkways, through which you can see the drain water rushing along. You will be inside a working septic system, so don’t expect it to smell like a Parisian patisserie down there.
Market Theater Gum Wall, Seattle, Washington
Often called one of the germiest tourist sites in the world, the Market Theater Gum Wall has been collecting germs and chewed gum since 1993. Theatergoers waiting in line for the Market Theater’s box office started sticking their gum on the wall here in Post Alley (some even getting creative and molding their discarded chews into sculptures). The collection has been removed and cleaned multiple times, but it keeps coming back.
Soviet Bunker, Vilnius, Lithuania
Wish you could relive the good old days of the Soviet Union? In Lithuania people pay good money to experience the terror of the era in an actual former Soviet bunker at 1984: Isvgyvenimo Drama. First, you’ll sign a waiver to acknowledge that “in case of disobedience participants may receive psychological or/and physical punishments.” Once you’ve signed your life into the hands of the reenactors, you’ll shed your cell phone and any connections to the present day and head inside the bunker.
Inside, guests are fully immersed in the role of Soviet citizens in the year 1984 and interrogated by KGB officers (actors) with dogs (real-life police canines); plus, they are forced to don gas masks, learn the anthem of the USSR, dance to the music of the era, and dine on a typical Soviet dinner. It’s not uncommon for visitors to pass out during the intense scenes and interrogations.
Island Of The Dolls, Xochimilco, Mexico
Deep within a labyrinth of canals in Mexico lies possibly the world’s creepiest island—Isla de las Munecas. To get to the “Island of the Dolls,” you’ll have to hire a trajinera (a special wooden boat that can navigate the canals) for a two-hour trip. At the island, you’ll be greeted by hundreds of dolls, some rotted and moldy, some hanging from trees, and some that now have insect nests in place of limbs. Local legend has it that a hermit isolated himself on this isle, and that the man claimed to be haunted by a girl who had drowned in the canal. To appease her spirit, he began collecting dolls and hanging them around the island. The hermit supposedly died in 2001 in the same way as the girl—by drowning in the canal.
Karni Mata Temple, Deshnoke, India
Musophobes (those afraid of mice and rats) should avoid this temple at all costs. The Karni Mata Temple in India is a Hindu shrine built to honor the rat goddess of the same name. Worshippers believe that souls of the goddess’ devotees are reincarnated as rodents, so all of the 20,000 rats that live in the temple are considered sacred. Watch your step in here—if a rat is killed, it must be replaced with a gold or silver statue. Besides, having a rat run over your feet in the temple is considered good luck (and no shoes are allowed inside).
Avanos Hair Museum, Avanos, Turkey
Deep in the dark cavern underneath a pottery store lies thousands of disembodied locks of hair. A Turkish potter/artist Chez Galip supposedly started The Hair Museum of Avanos over 30 years ago, and the collection has grown to include more than 16,000 pieces of hair, all of which are tagged with the name and address of the donor. Leave your own contribution when you visit—twice each year, 10 pieces of hair are chosen at random from the museum. These lucky lottery winners will receive an all-expenses paid trip back to Turkey to participate in the artist’s workshops.
Memento Park Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
After the Soviet Union fell in 1991, the statues of Lenin, Marx, and Stalin went down with it. Rather than be destroyed, though, some of these monuments were saved and put on display in Memento Park Budapest. Here you can see salvaged statues as well as replicas of former monuments. To add to the eeriness, there’s also a replica of Stalin’s former parade-watching grandstand and a mock central square (to represent the real-life squares where many uprisings took place across the region).
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