Special Report

The Most Mysterious Places in the World

Source: Dmitry_Chulov / iStock via Getty Images

Rock-hewn churches
> Location: Lalibela, Ethiopia

Near the town of Lalibela in the Ethiopian highlands, are 11 medieval monolithic churches carved straight out of the basalt rock landscape. Commissioned by King Lalibela in the late 12th century, the churches were meant to form a New Jerusalem that Christians could visit after the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem prevented Christian pilgimages to the Holy Land. Connecting some of the churches are a series of drainage ditches, tunnels, and passageways leading to catacombs and hermit caves. The site remains important to Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and is used daily for worship and prayer.

Slope Point
> Location: Waikawa, New Zealand

The southernmost point on New Zealand’s South Island is a wind-swept landscape of rugged cliffs and eerily disfigured trees that appear to be blowing over sideways. The harsh Antarctic winds that sweep through have permanently bent the trees northward. Planted by local sheep farmers as a refuge to give their sheep respite from the winds and rain, the trees have borne the brunt of the weather on an otherwise bare promontory.

Source: NNehring / iStock via Getty Images

Winchester Mystery House
> Location: San Jose, California

A tangled mansion of secret passageways, staircases to nowhere, and doors that lead to multi-story drops, the Winchester Mansion is known as one of the most haunted places in California. Built by widow Sarah Lockwood Winchester, heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune, the mansion saw continued construction and renovation for 38 years until Winchester’s death in 1922. According to local legend, Sarah was haunted by ghosts of the men killed by Winchester rifles, and in order to elude them, she took outlandish paths through the house and slept in a different room each night.

Source: Nicolas Jooris-Ancion / iStock via Getty Images

Fosse Dionne
> Location: Tonnerre, France

This mysterious karstic spring in Tonnerre has been a vital source of water for the area’s residents since at least the sixth century, gushing an incredible 80 gallons per second and inspiring legends and tales about what lies at the bottom. Its source, however, remains unknown. Partially fed by rainwater and an underground river, the spring has been explored by numerous divers since 1955 – some of whom died in the process – but nobody has been able to find where it originates.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Area 51
> Location: USAF Nevada Test and Training Range, Nevada

A U.S. Air Force facility that was not officially acknowledged by the government until 2013, Area 51 (officially called Homey Airport or Groom Lake) has been the topic of numerous conspiracy theories involving extraterrestrials and U.F.O.s. Many U.F.O. sightings have been reported in the area. While its stated use is as an aircraft testing site – which may explain the sitings – multiple people claiming to be former workers have reported that the site was harboring and reverse-engineering technologies from crashed alien spacecrafts, and one man claims to have seen photos of alien autopsies inside the base.

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