Earth is more than just a fuzzy blue and green ball floating in space. Our planet houses more than 7,5 billion people, spinning all of us through four seasons each year while providing us with magical views of oceans, mountains, valleys and more. There are a host of mysterious locations around the world, some extensively explored and explained by experts, others holding on to their mysteries. On this list are just some of the lesser talked-about locations on Earth, all surrounded by fascinating stories and theories.
Referred to as the ‘birthplace’ of Japan, Asuka village lies within the hills of the Nara Prefecture of Kansai, Japan. The village dates to the Tumulus Period and is home to several Buddhist temples and shrines.
The hills surrounding Asuka hold several stone monuments not built in the same style as the Buddhist sculptures, and their origins remain a mystery. The biggest of these has been named Masuda-no-Iwafune and is around 15 feet in height, weighing 800 tons. The stone has two square holes carved through it and is similar in construction to Ishi-no-Hoden, another ancient megalith in Japan.
While some believe that Buddhists may have carved the rock or that it was done in commemoration of Masuda Lake, the most popular theory surrounding the mysterious rock is that it may have been used as an astronomical observation point. The ridge line across the top of the rock runs parallel to the mountain ridge in the village and furthermore lines up with the sunset on a particular day of the year called “spring doyou entry.” This day historically indicated the beginning of the agricultural season and was of importance in the lunar calendar. ‘’Spring doyou entry” also occurs 13 days after the sectional solar term ‘Pure Brightness’, but the majority of experts don’t believe that any of this indicated that the rock could have been used for astronomical observation, leaving the rock’s purpose shrouded in mystery.
9 Dubrovnik’s islands
The city of Dubrovnik lies on the coast of the Adriatic Sea and accommodation here offers panoramic ocean views including several islands; the closest of which are Lokrum and Daksa. Day trips to Lokrum island are popular amongst tourist and locals, but no overnight stays are available and is discouraged. Daksa has been studiously avoided by both residents of Dubrovnik as well as visitors and tourists.
Long-standing legends have it that a community of Benedictine monks were chased from Lokrum by Napoleon’s forces in 1798, which led to the monks cursing the island before leaving it. They did so by walking the perimeter of the island three times, carrying lighted candles upside-down and leaving a trail of melted wax while chanting that those who wanted to claim Lokrum for their own pleasure would be damned. Fifty years later the younger brother of Emperor Franz Josef, Habsburg Royal Maximilian, bought Lokrum and established several gardens including exotic trees and imported birds. His story turned dark however, after he was executed by the Republicans and his wife slowly lost her mind after the death of her beloved husband. Visitors to the island today can still enjoy the trees planted by Maximilian and walk alongside brightly colored flowerbeds while keeping an eye out for friendly peacocks.
Daksa was also inhabited by monks in medieval times. By 1944, Partisans were rounding up Fascist sympathisers and took scores of them over to Daksa where they were executed. Those who stayed behind in Dubrovnik were warned not to try and find their loved ones or what remained of them. This led to several rumors of ghosts and hauntings on Daksa.
The rumors were further fuelled by the discovery of 53 bodies on the island in 2009, all of which were reburied in a newly constructed burial plot.
8 Papakolea Beach
Hawaii is a dream destination with white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, frequent rainbows, and green mountains. On this magnificent island state, you will also find red, black, and green sand beaches. Papakolea Beach on Big Island is one of only four green sand beaches in the world. Aptly named Green Sand Beach, the sand color was created by olivine crystals left behind by lava. The beach itself is carved from the side of a volcano, Mauna Loa, which also happens to be the world’s largest volcano.
The ocean washes away the lighter sand, leaving behind the heavier olivine, ensuring the deep green hue. Olivine is also known as the Hawaiian Diamond and mixed with glass and black pyroxene it makes up the volcanic material of Green Sand Beach.
To deter visitors from taking some of the green sand home with them, a legendary curse has been dreamed up, allegedly by park rangers. The legend has it that if anyone takes the sand home with them, bad luck will befall them immediately. Their misfortune would include accidents and family tragedies. Only returning the sand to the beach would stop the bad luck.
This legend caused many a superstitious tourist to mail the sand that they had taken back to the National Park Service out of fear that the curse would get them. Along with green sand, people also mail or fly back lava rocks as well as black and red sand.
7 Eye of the Sahara
The Eye of the Sahara, better known as the Richat Structure, lies near Quadane in west-central Mauritania. Even though it is a massive geologic formation, it wasn’t truly studied until humans spotted it from space, even though it was first described between the 30s and 40s. When photographs taken during the Gemini IV mission were published, scientists initially thought the strange ring structure was an impact crater. However, research didn’t reveal sufficient melted rock for that theory to hold up.
Several other theories followed, including a wacky claim that the Eye is proof that Atlantis existed in Africa. It has been concluded that the Eye is a geologic dome and contains rocks that are at least 100 million years old. Geologists now also believe that the Eye formed over 100 million years ago when Pangaea was torn apart and the continents of Africa and South America split up. It is also believed that the Eye erupted just after this creating the ‘look’ the structure has today.
6 Hermit Island
In Lake Superior you will find the beautiful Apostle Islands: 22 in total. It is believed that humans have inhabited the islands as early as 100 BC with full time settlers arriving around 950 AD. The name Apostle Islands was thought up by historian, Pierre Francois Xavier de Charlevoix who named them after the 12 apostles (indicating the largest 12 of the islands).
One of the islands, Hermit Island, is known to have been visited by Native Americans and the first recorded white settler was William Wilson who lived his life as a hermit there after being expelled from La Pointe in the 1850s. Wilson and John Bell had a falling out after Wilson threatened to kick Bell’s dog. Bell challenged Wilson to a fist fight, the consequence being that the loser would have to leave Madeleine Island where they both lived at the time.
As fate would have it, Wilson lost the fight and left for Hermit Island. Wilson made some money on the island by crafting barrels for the fishing industry but lived his life alone. In 1861, a man named Benjamin G. Armstrong who had previously assisted Wilson in purchasing a barrel of whiskey, realized that no smoke had come from Wilson’s island home in a few days. He let the then magistrate, John Bell, know of the situation and Bell sent a convoy to investigate.
Entering his small home, they found Wilson dead on the floor, surrounded by evidence pointing to murder.
Naturally, rumors of William Wilson’s ghost roaming the island soon followed. His restless spirit was said to have been the reason that a mansion built on the island in 1895 was never inhabited by its owners and reduced to rubble by the 1930s.
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5 Zone of Silence
Also described as the Mexican Bermuda Triangle, the Zone of Silence in the Chihuahuan desert in northern Mexico might only measure 50 kilometres across, but it has cemented its place as one of the most mysterious places on Earth.
When people drive into the Zone, radio signals stop working and compasses go haywire. In 1970 an Athena rocket launched from a US air force base in Green River, Utah, was meant to come down near White Sands in New Mexico. Something went drastically wrong and the rocket crashed 400 miles to the south in the Zone of Silence in the early hours of the morning. The crash led to the establishing of the Mapimi Biosphere Reserve by the Mexican government a few years later.
After the recovery operation by the US Air Force, paranormal stories about the Zone started making the rounds, including claims of strange lights, unexplained beings, fireballs, and UFOs. Some have claimed to have encountered blond aliens who ask for water in Spanish and then disappear into thin air.
4 Saalfeld fairy grottoes
The Saalfeld fairy grottoes in Germany were named the “most colorful cave grottoes in the world” by the Guinness Book of World Records. The caves were once a mining pit called Jeremias Luck in which miners mined black alum shale. After the mine was eventually closed, the remaining caves were transformed into a fairytale world over time with stunning colors dotting its formations.
The grottoes were largely forgotten however, after the closure of the mine, but became popular again after its ‘rediscovery’ in 1910. In 1913 a third chamber was discovered, and tours were offered to the public in 1914. These tours were halted when WWI broke out. In the decades that followed millions of tourists have visited these grottoes. Legend has it that during its mining days, some miners saw a fairy inside one of the caves. They approached the fairy and she disappeared. From this incident the grottoes are said to have earned their magical name.
3 The Seven-Colored Earth of Chamarel
Mauritius is well-visited because of its pristine beaches, wonderful culture, and fantastic tourist attractions. One of the most beloved attractions on this beautiful island is the ‘seven-colored earth’ of Chamarel. This geological curiosity consists of a small, bare landscape that displays shades of purple, yellow, red, brown, green, blue, and violet and is located inside a dense forest. It is known that the bedrock of the landscape was formed after a volcanic eruption, and that the colors are due to the formation of secondary iron oxides and hydroxides in the weathered basalt.
When first gazing upon the Chamarel attraction, it seems as though there are shadows that create the illusion of several different colors. However, once you go closer to the colored earth, you realize that the colors are real and that the shadows are the real illusion. What’s more, even when you can mix the different colored sand together, it will always settle back into separate layers.
2 New York’s Eternal Flame
The eternal flame in Eternal Flame Falls in Chestnut Ridge Park, New York, is not the only one in the world, but it is certainly the most unique. Legend has it that a Native American lit the flame hundreds of years ago and that the flame has been burning ever since. Technically, the flame has had to be re-lit several times when it is extinguished by the waterfall cascading past it. Hikers carry lighters with them for this very purpose.
The flame burns because of a natural gas leak seeping through the rock of the small grotto it is located in. The gas has a higher concentration of ethane and propane than any of the other eternal flames around the world. And while geologists are still puzzled as to how the NY eternal flame is continuously defying the laws of nature, seeing as how the rock beneath the flame is nowhere near the boiling temperature which is needed to release the natural gas, they have theorized that the gas may be coming from a source 1,300 feet below the surface. They also believe that this process may be the result of an undiscovered geologic process caused by the production of the natural gas within shale rock.
1 The Chocolate Hills – Philippines
In the Philippines, as many as 1776 hills take on a golden-brown color during the summer season and have been given the name ‘Chocolate Hills.’ Often referred to as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ the Chocolate Hills is one of a kind, even though there are similar mounds on the island Java in Indonesia as well. The Indonesia mounds have a less ‘uniform’ appearance compared to the Philippines mounds, however.
Legend has it that a giant cried over love gone wrong and the hills sprung up where his tears fell. Another legend says that two giants engaged in their own personal war with one another and heaved boulders at one another for days on end. When they eventually buried the hatchet, the boulders remained, becoming the Chocolate Hills we know today.
Geologists believe the hills were formed due to the erosion of limestones that had shifted above sea level and fractured because of tectonic processes. Some theorize that the hills may have been coral reefs that erupted from the water after a geologic shift.