Top 20 Mysterious Places on Earth
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Top 20 Mysterious Places on Earth

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
For all our advanced technology and internet sleuthing there are corners of this earth that refuse to give up their secrets. For this list, we're looking at places around the world that, for various reasons, have captured our collective imagination due to their association with the unknown, unexplained or seemingly otherworldly. Our countdown includes the Bermuda Triangle, The Nazca Lines, Area 51, and more!
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Script Written By Michael Wynands

Top 20 Mysterious Places on Earth


For all our advanced technology and internet sleuthing… there are corners of this earth that refuse to give up their secrets. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 20 Mysterious Places on Earth.

For this list, we’re looking at places around the world that, for various reasons, have captured our collective imagination due to their association with the unknown, unexplained or seemingly otherworldly.

#20: The Alaska Triangle [aka Alaska’s Bermuda Triangle]


Spanning the vast south-eastern reaches of the Alaskan wilderness up to its mountain ranges, an unusual number of hikers, boats and planes vanish without a trace. In fact, the state of Alaska has not only twice the American national average of people reported missing, but also the lowest statistics for people found. Is it the unforgiving weather, wild animals, immense uncharted terrain, or something more sinister? The indigenous Tlingit people tell stories of a shape-shifting being called Kushtaka, meaning “land otter man”, who mimics the screams of children to lure unwary travellers to their deaths. Others blame Bigfoot, or propose that the area is a “vile vortex” like the Bermuda Triangle, linked to electro-magnetic aberrations.

#19: The Stony Tunguska River [aka Podkamennaya Tunguska River]



In 1908, an explosion 1,000 times greater than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima tore through the air over Siberia. Witnesses reported a column of bluish light as the sky seemed to split in half and catch fire. The blast sent a shockwave that knocked people off their feet and flattened 770 square miles of forest, toppling an estimated 80 million trees. When the first expedition arrived to investigate, native guides would not enter the impact zone, fearing people they called “the Valleymen”. Strangely, the scorched trees in the center of the blast zone remained upright. While scientific consensus attributes the blast to the explosion of a meteorite in mid air – leading some to blame natural gas or even a collision with alien spacecraft.


#18: Temple of Jupiter


Located in modern day Lebanon, this ancient temple of Roman design is now little more than rubble. While the architecture is largely in keeping with the style of the time, and therefore not especially mysterious, the temple’s foundation is another story. Even after many years of study, experts are at a loss to explain how, using the technology of the time, builders were able to displace and position foundation stones weighing approximately 1,000 tons apiece. For context, these are among the largest and heaviest stones used in construction of any kind throughout human history - including today. Theories involve multiple cranes being used in conjunction or rolling the stones using piles of earth, but it’s all speculation at this point.

#17: The Devil's Sea [aka Dragon’s Triangle & ‘Pacific Bermuda Triangle’]


This is a region of the Pacific Ocean that’s south of Japan in which several ships have disappeared, notably the Japanese research vessel Kaiyo Maru No 5 in the early 1950s. Sailors have reported problems with electronic instruments and sightings of unmanned ghost ships. American author and linguist Charles Berlitz, who also popularised the idea of the Bermuda Triangle, made the area around Miyake Island famous with his book "The Dragon's Triangle" in 1989. Although authorities claim the Kairo Maru was destroyed by natural forces while the crew was investigating the eruption of an underwater volcano, Berlitz attributed the incident to unknown supernatural forces – and even blamed the Dragon’s Triangle for the disappearance of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart.


#16: Door to Hell [aka Darvaza Gas Crater]


This natural gas field is more formally known as the Darvaza gas crater, but that doesn’t really do it justice. 226 feet wide and 98 feet deep at its lowest point, this hellish-looking pit in the Ahal Province of Turkmenistan is just about the last thing that you’d expect to stumble across as you traverse the Karakum Desert. It is thought to have been burning continuously since 1971, when it was intentionally set ablaze for fear that natural gas might affect local towns. Experts expected the gas to burn off in a matter of weeks, but here we are, nearly a half century later, and it continues to glow as bright as the fires of hell. Now a tourist attraction, it’s especially impressive when seen at night.


#15: Eternal Flame Falls, New York, USA


Can’t get enough fire? Located in the United States and prefer something a little closer to home? The Eternal Flame Falls in New York state are sure to satisfy. Like something straight out of a fantasy film or video game, this waterfall in Chestnut Ridge Park contains a small grotto where a natural gas escapes causing a small, perpetually burning flame. It does occasionally go out and needs a little help to get going again, but it generally persists unaided year round. The Door to Hell might be more impressive due to its size, but there’s something about the combination of water and fire in such close proximity that adds to the overall sense of mystery and wonder surrounding the Eternal Flame Falls.

#14: Richat Structure


Also known as the Eye of the Sahara or the Eye of Africa, this unique structure spanning 25 miles across has generated much speculation as to its origins. At one point in time, this series of concentric ridged circles in west–central Mauritania were thought to have been the evidence of a meteor impact. Now, the geological site is believed to be the result of erosion. However, the area around the Richat Structure has also revealed a treasure trove of archeological finds in the form of Acheulean artifacts - which date back to the Lower Palaeolithic period 300,000 years ago. This has sparked much speculation as to what the Eye of Africa used to look like and what it meant to our ancient ancestors.

#13: Island of the Dolls [aka Isla de las Muñecas]


As you navigate this creepy island just south of Mexico City, thousands of small unblinking eyes watch your passage. The island is actually man-made, dating all the way back to the floating gardens of Aztec times. As legend has it, owner Julian Santana Barrera found a little drowned girl in the canal and a doll floating close by, which he hung in a tree as a sign of respect. But shortly following this act, he started to hear whispers, footsteps, and screams following him in the dark. Santana Barrera spent the next half century hanging dolls to pacify the girl's spirit. When he died in 2001, his body was eerily found in the same spot he had found the drowned girl.



#12: Teotihuacán


This ancient Mesoamerican city is the site of some of the best preserved and most important pyramids on the continent, but for all the research that has been done, much remains a mystery about Teotihuacán. The Aztecs discovered the city sometime in the 1400s and even then it appeared as if it had been abandoned hundreds of years earlier. We do not know who built it, but it seems as if its construction and expansion spanned from 400BCE and 300CE. The city was seemingly a center of trade and the site of ritual sacrifices, but the culture, politics, language and specific religion all remain question marks. Perhaps the greatest mystery of all however, is what led to the fall of this once-powerful ancient metropolis.



#11: The Nazca Lines


Some 2000 years ago, hundreds of complex geoglyphs were carved into the desert sands of southern Peru. Composed of over thousands of lines, the geometric figures and animal and plant designs cover arid plateau south of Lima that’s more than 50 miles in size. As fascinating as they may be, many questions remain: how were such complex designs created without aerial technology? Why did these people create shapes in the soil that are only visible only from the air or hilltops? While scholars claim the lines were constructed using simple surveying equipment, others conjecture the use of hot air balloons, or speculate that the lines were once alien airfields. Various other uses have been proposed from religious symbolism, to astronomical calendars, to irrigation, but their ultimate purpose remains unknown.


#10: North Sentinel Island


An isolated indigenous tribe has lived on this island in the Bay of Bengal for an estimated 60,000 years. Fringed by perilous reefs, the island is difficult to reach, and boats that do land are met with a hail of arrows. As a result, little is known about the Sentinelese. Their language is unclassified and population estimates range from 50 to 400. During one failed expedition, as tensions rose between locals and anthropologists cornered on the reefs, some of the indigenous women made off with warriors and proceeded to have sex on the beach... which is certainly one way to cool off. What are the beliefs and customs of the Sentinelese? What do they think of our metal ships and flying machines? Aside from rocks and arrows to the head, the world at large may never make contact. And that might not be a bad thing.



#9: Fairy Circles, Namibia


Every desert has its secrets, but few have drawn more attention or stumped the scientific community quite like that of the Namib Desert in southern Africa. Leopards have spots, but grasslands? Not typically. As long as anyone can remember, the desert has been home to sparse fields of grass dotted with notably barren patches dubbed “fairy circles” due to their roughly circular shape. They look entirely unnatural, and yet no human hand plays a role in their creation. Locals have all manner of supernatural explanations from gods to dragons, while the scientific community has suggested termite behavior and the competition between plants for water. In the absence of a definitive answer, the polka dot landscape continues to invite speculation.


#8: The Michigan Triangle


Often compared to the Bermuda Triangle (which we’ll get to later), this region in Lake Michigan is the site of numerous maritime and aviation disasters. Particularly notorious is the strait linking Lake Michigan and Green Bay, known as Porte des Morts or “Death's Door”, which is littered with shipwrecks thanks to hidden shoals and unpredictable winds. There have also been reports, however, of UFOs, sea monsters, underwater Stonehenge-like alignments, and theories that there are portals through time and space in the Triangle. But the most famous incident was the crash of Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 2501 in 1950, which killed all 58 passengers and crew – and was the worst airline accident to happen in the United States to that point. Only light debris and human body fragments were recovered, although mass burial sites were recently discovered in local cemeteries. Regular searches for the wreckage continue.

#7: Mapimí Silent Zone


Technological advances have allowed humanity to accomplish some pretty incredible things. We’re still able to receive information from Voyager 1 across a distance of 13.8 billion miles. So how is it that we can’t manage to consistently maintain radio signals while crossing through this stretch of desert in Mexico? Back in the 1930s, a pilot reportedly had his equipment go haywire while flying over the area. Then, in the 1970s, the US Air Force conducted a recovery mission involving a test rocket and radioactive materials. Ever since, there are claims that radio and phone signals will randomly drop in the area (though not consistently). People also allege to have spotted UFOs in the Silent Zone, as well as “mutated” plants and animals.



#6: San Luis Valley


Located in south-central Colorado and stretching into New Mexico, San Luis Valley is like a lightning rod for paranormal activity and strange phenomena. UFOs, flying humanoid-type creatures, bigfoot sightings - San Luis has reportedly played host to them all. It was also the site of a slew of strange animal mutilations in the 1970s that have never been solved, and which many have attributed to alien activity in the area. Why? Because, in the case of one horse, the cuts were extremely precise, there was a chemical smell in the air, and the decomposition was completely unnatural. Its footprints ended some 100 yards away from the body and its wounds were seemingly cauterized. And this is just one of the many anomalies the area is known for.

#5: Bermuda Triangle


This entry requires no introduction - it’s among the most infamous stretches of sea in the world. Dating back all the way to the late 15th century, this roughly triangular patch of ocean (defined by Florida, Bermuda and Puerto Rico) has been the site of numerous odd and unexplained occurrences. It was here in 1492, that Christopher Columbus and his crew reported seeing a mysterious light. Throughout the 1800s, various ships were lost, and many of them never recovered. In the 1900s, the ships were soon joined by aircrafts as they began to take to the skies over these troubled waters. Theorists have suggested everything from the Gulf Stream or compass anomalies to UFOs, but the mystery persists.


#4: Crooked Forest


In West Pomerania, Poland, just outside of Nowe Czarnowo, lies a grove of pine trees unlike any other. They date back to approximately 1930 and are notable for the uniformly odd shape of their trunks. They all have a sharp bend to them, followed by a progressive c-shaped curve. Trees shaped by the elements aren’t uncommon, but they’re typically the result of extreme winds. And there’s nothing of the sort here. As such, people assume the trees are the result of human intervention, but to achieve this effect across 400 trees would have required a substantial amount of effort and coordination across a long period of time. Others have suggested that a snowstorm could have uniformly damaged the trees, but neither explanation satisfies.


#3: Easter Island


887 monolithic stone statues watch over this remote Pacific island. Carved by the Rapa Nui people as early as 1250 CE, most of these silent sentinels line the coast with their backs to the sea, many half-buried beneath centuries of soil. What compelled people to build and transport such giant figures, some of which weigh over 80 tons? While oral histories recount that the statues walked into place of their own volition, scholars have proposed various theories, including that they were moved by rocking their bases back and forth – as if walking. Scholars speculate that the statues represent deified ancestors, but the island's stone guardians could not protect the Rapa Nui people, whose population has been greatly abolished by deforestation, European diseases, and Peruvian slavers – leaving the truth shrouded in mystery.



#2: Stonehenge


This is the name given to a ring of standing stones around five thousand years old that are surrounded by hundreds of ancient burial mounds in Wiltshire, England. Scholars have debated the significance of Stonehenge for decades. How did prehistoric people transport the giant stones, some from hills 150 miles away? Hypotheses include long tracks of logs, sleighs on greased tracks, and, of course, aliens. Let's not forget Merlin. Or giants. Opinions also differ as to the site's function. Was it a burial site, a place of healing, or an astronomical observatory? A portal to another universe? Maybe a sort of elaborate team building exercise? According to Royal College of Art researchers, the bluestones have “unusual acoustic properties,” ringing when struck, which was often associated in ancient cultures with mystical properties. No matter the explanations, few can deny the site's grandeur and magic.



#1: Area 51


US air force facility . . . or storehouse for extra-terrestrial technologies? Located deep in the Nevada desert, this remote research installation has been used as a test site for experimental aircraft and weapons, with the dry bed of Groom Lake providing an ideal airfield. But the secrecy around the site and a string of alleged UFO sightings have stimulated allegations that the base houses crashed and reverse-engineered alien spacecraft, and even alien collaborators. While sceptics suggest the UFOs were reflections of light on the broad fuselage of aircraft such as the Lockheed U-2, people claiming to be former employees report having worked hand-in-four-fingered-grey-hand with extra-terrestrial engineers in a vast underground facility.
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