The Mysteries of the World is Not what be fantom by human minds. Much of what happens on our planet can be explained. But to this day, some destinations remain shrouded in mystery, with the world’s greatest minds unable to determine their histories or explain they’re remarkable features. Planet Earth is a wondrous place that never ceases to amaze with its majestic natural wonders and jaw-dropping man-made marvels. But our planet isn’t without its fair share of mysteries, either. If you’re fascinated by places with mythical origins or unexplained phenomena that will give you goosebumps, you’ll be intrigued by these enigmatic spots around the world.
Take, for instance, a remote valley in Norway where a regular light show has no known origin. Or a forest in Poland where trees grow at a mystifying 90-degree angle. Or an area of Lake Michigan where all sorts of bizarre incidents have taken place, and no one is sure why.
We combed the continents in search of the world’s most mysterious places, and found some truly wild places.
The Bermuda Triangle
The Bermuda Triangle is perhaps the most famous mysterious place in the world. This area of about 500,000 square miles sits in the Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Miami, Florida. More than 20 planes and 50 ships are said to have mysteriously vanished into thin air or crashed without explanation. Though vessels manage to pass through the area with ease every day and there are no more disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle than in any other large, well-traveled area of the ocean, the unexplained accidents have still captured the public imagination.
San Luis Valley
The San Luis Valley desert in southern Colorado is so mysterious, it even has its own Google Map highlighting various paranormal activities that have been reported there. A flying humanoid was spotted in the desert in 2009, there have been many bigfoot sightings over the years, and it’s home to a ranch that “figured prominently in the [animal] mutilation waves of the ’70s.”
This otherwise beautiful valley — the largest alpine valley in the world — has been inhabited by humans (or aliens?) for thousands of years. One indication of this is the snaking stones of unknown origin that measure hundreds of feet long and contain rocks so enormous that it would take a well-coordinated effort to place them.
But perhaps the weirdest feature isn’t otherworldly at all, it’s just bizarre. The northern part of the valley floor contains the 40-square-mile Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, which features the world’s tallest dune at 750 feet. Geologists have a hard time explaining the origin of the sand, but they think it might’ve been blown in from the Rio Grande riverbed to the west. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that the sand is some of the purest silica on Earth, and has a distinct mineral composition unlike anything else in the valley.
Eternal Flame Falls, New York
An eternal flame burning behind a cascading waterfall? If you think that sounds like a clever parlor trick, you’re not entirely wrong. The dancing flame seemingly encased in water doesn’t self-ignite. If and when it’s extinguished, it belies its name and has to be re-lit. However, even if – at first glance – the mystery of the flame is easily explained by natural gas deposits below the falls seeping out and being set alight by humans, scientists are still unable to explain how the natural gas is produced. Although there are dozens of other naturally fuelled flames all over the world, this one in upstate New York may well turn out to be the only one of its kind.
Devils Tower National Monument (Wyoming)
Devils Tower is a dramatic geologic feature that juts out of the rolling prairie surrounding the Black Hills region in Wyoming, and it became the first national monument in the country in 1906. It might seem like a majestic mountain, but it’s actually made of molten rock that hardened into fascinating geometric columns. This site is sacred to multiple Native American tribes, and its mythical quality led to it being featured in the sci-fi movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” It’s still the setting for Native American ceremonies as well as a popular destination for rock climbing and hiking.
Plain of Jars (Laos)
The 1930s discovery of thousands of megalithic stone jars dotting a remote landscape in Laos has long intrigued travelers and scientists alike.
The jars date as far back as 500 BC and are quite the sight to behold. Most of the jars are sandstone, but some are granite or limestone, and it’s presumed they were chiseled with iron tools. They were likely covered with lids, although few stone lids have been found so it’s again presumed the lids were made from wood or ratan. It’s unknown what they were used for or why they were placed where they are, but local legend tells the best story.
The story goes that the jars are the last remnants of a society of giants whose king used them to store his rice wine. Other, less fantastical explanations are that they collected rainwater or were used as funerary urns, the latter of which makes the most sense considering human remains and ceramics have been unearthed near the jars.
Sea of Stars (Vaadhoo Island, Maldives)
Known as the Sea of Stars, the waters around Vaadhoo Island, part of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, put on a magical nighttime display. When disturbed, billions of bioluminescent microorganisms called dinoflagellates in the water emit a bluish glow, much like aquatic fireflies. When the conditions are right, these floating lights can rival the splendor of the most stunning night sky or spectacular sunset.
The Great Pyramid of Giza (Egypt)
The Great Pyramid of Giza has been captivating mankind for thousands of years. The only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world that’s still intact, it continues to be one of the most visited tourist attractions on Earth. Visitors and scholars alike are still baffled by how the 455-foot-tall pyramid was created without modern tools, although common theories are that they were constructed using some type of ramp system.
Starting in 1981, residents of Hessdalen Valley in central Norway started seeing colored lights hanging in the sky from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., with appearances most common in winter months. The lights were considered so strange that they sparked a massive scientific effort to explain their origin, complete with an automated measurement station.
This led to a pile of possible explanations — including solar activity, cosmic rays, mini-black holes, heated nanoparticles and quantum fluctuation of the vacuum state — but none of them checked out and still no one is certain of where the lights come from.
One seemingly reasonable explanation is also the most boring: The lights are from aircraft at a distant airport. This doesn’t fully explain the phenomenon, though, even if it stacks up with the origin of once-unexplainable lights in places like Texas and North Carolina.
Island of the Dolls (Mexico City, Mexico)
Isla de las Muñecas, Spanish for Island of the Dolls, is an island located in the canals of the Xochimilco neighborhood of Mexico City. As the legend goes, the island’s caretaker became haunted by guilt after he was unable to save a little girl whodrowned there more than 50 years ago. He hung dolls around the island as a tribute. The unsettling dolls with severed limbs, decapitated heads and empty eye sockets still remain there, and some people claim the island is haunted.
Lake Hillier (Australia)
With its bubblegum-pink waters, Australia’s Lake Hillier might have the most unique and pretty waters in the world. It sits right next to the Pacific Ocean, which makes its natural color really pop in comparison. It has plenty of fish living in its waters and is even safe for swimming, although tourists aren’t allowed in the water. The reason for Lake Hillier’s color remains a mystery, but it’s most likely caused by algae, bacteria or chemical reactions.
Magnetic Hill (India)
Magnetic hills, or gravity hills, are optical illusions in which a road that looks like it’s sloping uphill due to the surrounding landscape is actually sloping downhill, so cars, buses and other vehicles appear to roll uphill in defiance of gravity. Local superstition holds that the magnetic hill outside of Leh, India, leads people to heaven, and visitors flock here to test this strange natural phenomenon for themselves.
The prehistoric monument from more than 5,000 years ago is such a famous landmark that people might not think of it as mysterious anymore. But how and why these massive stones in England were made and arranged over the course of 1,500 years has captivated researchers, historians and curious visitors for generations. While it is generally accepted that it was built as a sacred temple and burial ground, how Neolithic people managed this massive architectural feat is still debated.
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