Are you looking for heaven on earth? You might find it in India. Maybe you want to experience a blend of East and West. China might have your solution. Still, if you have an intense love for chess, a community in Kalmykia could be your paradise. There are some very strange places out there in the world. This is a list of ten of the weirdest communities on planet Earth. From a town that resembles a horror film set, to a city composed almost entirely of trash, you will be amazed at the towns that some people call home.
Some of these places are flourishing and welcoming to visitors. Others are more stoic, or even abandoned. Relics from the past and glimpses of a possible future complete this list of some of the most bizarre, yet intriguing places around the globe. You may think that your hometown is weird, but you have not seen anything yet!
There is no need to pack your suitcase and find your passport. This list will describe ten of these odd places. We will leave it to you as to whether you decide to pay them a visit. Some of these communities are more attractive than others, while some are just downright eerie.
10. Manshiyat Naser, Egypt – Garbage City
You may have heard of dumpster diving – rifling through other people’s trash in order to find some treasure. Yet, in Egypt, there is a Garbage City. Nestled in a pocket of Cairo, Manishiyat Naser is a city that flourishes on the profits made from trash. Residents here go through the garbage cans of Cairo’s citizens and use it to build an economy. In Garbage City there is tons of trash, but no amenities. Plumbing, electricity, and a sewage system are nowhere to be found. Despite the immense poverty and lack of modern appliances, the people of Garbage City have a system of collecting trash. Some focus on plastic, others on paper, metal, etc. A glimmer of hope: seven beautiful churches that resemble caves serve as a monastery and a school.
9. Thames Town, China
Who needs Epcot? Now the Chinese can get country hop in their backyard. Thames Town is an abandoned city in China, located about twenty miles outside of Shanghai. The city is an almost identical replication of the real thing in England. The town is even complete with English culture, such as a pub where you can order classic meals. However, Thames Town is almost completely deserted, yet newlyweds often get wedding photos taken there. It could be the strange vibe of cookie-cutter houses and perfect cobblestone streets. The town was built using five billion yuan and was completed in 2006. It was meant to help decrease the population in nearby Shanghai, but Thames Town boasts a population of about zero. Despite the lack of success, a similar town is being constructed near Beijing.
8. Gibsonton, Florida
Close to Tampa lies Gibsonton, a town where you can let your freak flag fly. Traveling freak shows and circuses have found a home here, where the law allows you to have exotic pets on your property. The town is also like a free-for-all carnival, with rides and attractions cropping up on people’s front lawns. Gibsonton has earned the nickname Showtown, U.S.A. For the past seven decades, it has been the home to circus acts of all kinds. Most of the stars who made Gibsonton famous are no longer with us, but the town remains a relic in freakish history.
7. Zarechny, Russia
Zarechny is known as the Closed City, referring to the many towns in the U.S.S.R. that were closed off and restricted during World War II. Zarechny was one of the cities that housed research and strategic facilities, so it was essentially shut down by Communist forces. Residents had restricted access to the outside world, and the city was literally taken off the map. Now, Zarechny is still a relic of the past, and is one of the few closed cities remaining. Outsiders are allowed in by invitation only and the residents (about 62,000) live behind barbed wire, although they have the option of leaving or entering.
6. Rennes-le-Chateau, France
This Catholic French town was visited by Francois Berenger Sauniere in 1885. He began as a needy preacher and soon amassed a great fortune. He used his riches to commission the construction of a devil statue in front of the new church. The monument was complete with an inscription stating that “This place is terrible.” To the side of the church, Sauniere lived in an opulent house. No one is sure how he obtained his wealth, and many conspiracies surround the topic. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code brought much tourism to the town, and increased interest around Sauniere’s story.
5. Elista, Kalmykia – Chess City
Kalmykia is a republic of Russia and is the stuff of fantasy. The town was the creation inspired by former president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. It features a number of chess piece monuments are scattered throughout the town. While Chess City was the site of some chess tournaments over the years, the town is virtually deserted and resembles a ghost town. Ilyumzhinov claimed that constructing Chess City was his destiny, which was revealed to him by aliens. A huge glass dome sits in the town and serves as a museum and exhibition hall. The town is eerie, surreal, and captivating, but unfortunately, it has lost interest to almost everyone.
4. Noiva Do Cordeiro, Brazil
Can you imagine a world in which females ruled? That is the reality in Noiva Do Cordeiro, Brazil. That’s right, this is an (almost) all-female town. The city’s name translates to “Bride of the Lamb” and was founded in 1891. This is a countryside community of 600 women. Only a few of the ladies have husbands, and those men only come into the city on the weekends. During the week, they work in a surrounding city. Yet, many of the women are desperate for some male presence, and are seeking intimate relationships. Even so, the women feel accomplished and proud to be handling the working, money, and structure of the town.
3. Najaf, Iraq
In this Iraqi town, prepare yourself for the heebie-jeebies. This city is located at the biggest cemetery in the world, Wadi Al-Salam. About five million bodies rest here, with burials happening every single day. Due to current events from ISIS, Najaf is running out of space for corpses; about two hundred are arriving every day. People have even taken to burying their dead in other places besides the cemetery. Lately, gangs have been spotted in Najaf and have been trading weapons. Things have always been looking grim for this city, but even more so now. It is like a real-life horror story.
2. Neft Daslari, Azerbaijan
Neft Daslari is essentially a twisting city of oil. It is held in place as it sits on the Caspian Sea. Shipwrecks and industrial waste keep the city stable. Neft Daslari was a major exporter of oil to the U.S.S.R; but now it is more of a tourist attraction and oddity. It would be hard to live in this town, as part of it is underwater, but about 5,000 residents call it home. Scientists have said that the town is only capable of holding thirty million tons more oil. The future of Neft Daslari hangs in the balance – or rather, the sea.
1. Auroville, India
This town was founded in 1968 and contains about two-thousand residents from across the globe. Known as The City of Dawn, it features a large, gold domed-shaped building called The Matrimandir, named after the founder, Mirra “The Mother” Alfassa. Another unique thing about Auroville – it is a pocket of seemingly perfect society. There is no money, no governmental power, and no forced set of rules. It favors peace and “progressive harmony” between people of all races, beliefs, and nations. It is open to visitors and residents 14 and under attend a school, which teaches the typical subjects. The main language is English and the economy is fueled from the government of India, NGOs, and other organizations.