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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

10 most mysterious places in the world

By Nikki Bayley
From the spine-tinglingly spooky to the ever-so-eerie, there are many places around the world that hold myths, magic, legends and just a dash of alien activity.
We've scoured the globe to bring you our favourite mystical places...
Area 51
Alien adventures in Area 51
We love the USA, and the USA loves a good alien conspiracy story. Most famous of all must be the notorious Area 51 in the southern part of Nevada. The military base there is at the heart of UFO folklore, as it's believed to be the place that the US military studied the so-called crashed alien spacecraft from Roswell. You can take an Area 51 tour which takes in the 'Extraterrestrial Highway' and stops off at the Little A'le'Inn and Joshua Tree Forest. Obviously, excellent giftshop opportunities are available and don't forget to drop off a note to ET at the alien mail box... 
The myth of the Yeti and the movie star...
High up in the Himalayas, the legend of the Yeti, or the Abominable Snowman, still lives on. You can now visit the Merak Sakten region of Bhutan, entry to which used to be closed, and get a glimpse of the relatively untouched part of the Himalayas that is rumoured to be the place where the last surviving Yetis live. Our favourite piece of Yeti myth? In 1959, actor James Stewart reportedly smuggled out the 'Pangboche hand' on a flight from India to London. The hand was believed to be Yeti remains. 
The magical Mexican market
One of the most thrilling cities, where the modern and ancient worlds seem to co-exist with a sometimes baffling ease, Mexico City is home to the world's largest witchcraft and magic market. In the heart of the city's Colonia Merced Balbuena neighbourhood, you'll find aisles of products designed to help you achieve your dreams and desires through a blend of witchcraft and religious rituals. Most popular are the love spells like the 'Amansa guapos' designed to tame your man and the 'Ven a mi' come to me spells. 
Nazca lines
Nazca Lines - Peru
Forget those ancient chalk-stone-man-on-a-cliff symbols that we have here in the UK. When it comes to the real 'how did they do that?' deal, check out Peru's Nazca Lines. Believed to have been created between 400-650AD there are hundreds of individual designs of everything from human figures to sharks, monkeys and lizards. The largest of these is over 200m wide, which begs the question, how on earth did they manage to draw these stunning figures on the ground, with no way of seeing what they looked like from above? Cue Twilight Zone music. 
The hills are alive...with dragons!
The stunning Tyrol Mountains in Austria are home to the Kundl Gorge, which is believed to have been created by a fearsome dragon. Back in the days when the world was young, the locals believe that the Wildschönau area used to be a lake, was home to the fire-breathing baddie. A farmer managed to defeat the dragon and during the fight, the rocks which circled the lake became dislodged. The water poured away towards the valley and this is how the Wildschönau emerged and the Kundl gorge was born. You can see the dragon on the region's coat of arms, and search for dragon offspring in the mountains. 
Spooky times in Florida
The appropriately-named Spook Hill in Florida is home to one of the world's most baffling optical illusions - a gravity hill. When you park your car at the bottom of the hill and leave it in neutral, it will slowly roll its way up the hill, seemingly defying gravity. There are many gravity hills around the world, but Spook Hill also boasts a wealth of legends, from a protective Indian chief to a grumpy alligator. 
Easter IslandThe Easter Island Moai mystery
Known as the most isolated populated place on Earth, Easter Island is also one of the most mysterious, thanks to its giant 'moai' - the almost 900 carved human statues that were found on the island. The mystery of the moai lies in their sheer size and weight; the tallest is 82 tons and almost 10m high, so how on earth did the ancient Polynesian civilisation transport these stunning sculptures across the island, from where they made them in the quarry? Of course, conspiracy theorists suggest alien intervention... 
The mystery of the Loch Ness Monster
One of the most abiding myths of the UK is that of the Loch Ness Monster. Nessie, as she's known, was first mentioned in 565 AD when St Columba was asked to save swimmers in the River Ness from 'a terrible creature'. Fast forward to the 1800s and Nessie-mania began, with regular sightings of the long-necked, small-headed, multi-humped watery wee beastie. The latest sightings have been on images from Google Earth, which show a 65ft-long shape that seems to have flippers and a tail, swimming on the surface of the 22-mile Loch. Could it really be Nessie?! 
(Possibly) pagan Margate
Margate doesn't sound like it might be the place to discover a mysterious underground relic of a pagan past. A lovely tea shop, yes, but a pagan temple? No. However, in 1835 that is precisely what was found... Or was it? Around 4.6 million seashells decorate the walls of the subterranean marvel that is the Shell Grotto, in mosaic-like designs. The debate rages on as to whether the it was a Victorian folly or a far more ancient sacrificial pagan altar, a sun-worshipper's temple, or even a relic from that most mysterious of orders, the Knights Templar? Absolutely worth a visit, whatever it is. 
What lies below in Egypt
Egypt seems to be blessed with an abundance of mysterious marvels. Above ground, there are the sphinx and the pyramids, but did you know that below the sea lie equally amazing things? Submerged in the sea at Alexandria, in the north of the country, there is a stunning array of statues and other artifacts believed to be from Cleopatra's palace. Get into your scuba gear and dive into history.