In Europe, you can visit the strangest places. Here are some of the weirdest European tourist attractions:
- Chernobyl, Ukraine
Yes, its a tourist attraction. And yes, its worth a visit even though its a bit pricey and rather creepy. The tour includes a genuine Soviet-style dinner served in Chernobyl. Some visitors forget that it’s not a “fun” place like the Eiffel tower, so if you do get there try to keep it down. To complement the visit, don’t miss the Chernobyl museum in Kiev.
- Lourdes, France
At first glance, Lourdes seems a normal French town. But it has a really weird vibe, swarmed as it is with cripples and sick of all kinds. If you think of drinking the holy water – think again. Look around you. All these people, carrying every possible disease, have been bathing in it. Trust in god, but with a pinch of salt and a bucket of common sense.
What can be weird about Liechtenstein? The country isn’t even big enough to afford weirdness. However, if you measure weirdness per square kilometre, only the Vatican might be weirder. For example, the mighty army of Liechtenstein once returned from a war with more soldiers than it started off with, after some random guy liked their uniforms and marched back with the troops. Actually, its even weird that Liechtenstein even thought of going to war with someone. They can’t afford customs, but the tourist office charges 3 CHF for getting a Liechtenstein stamp in your passport, supplementing the nation’s income from tax evasion. The weirdest thing about Liechtenstein – you can rent it. And its the only country to have won an IgNobel prize.
- Berlin wall, Germany
If you’re old enough to remember, think about what it was like just 25 years ago. You’d be shot if you would as much as look at it. Nowadays – its the number 1 tourist attraction in Berlin. The weirdest thing – there’s no wall at all. They were so happy they just cleared it all away. As the whole former death zone is built up with shopping malls and offices, you actually have to really look hard for the remaining pieces.
- Museum of Aviation, Belgrade, Serbia
The weirdness starts with the location – the Nicola Tesla Airport. Usually, airports are named after politicians – Kennedy, Indira Ghandi, De Gaulle and such. This one is the only airport I know of named after an electrical engineer (who was also the inventor of the death ray). Perhaps naming it “Slobodan Milošević Airport” would create some frictions and generate too many jokes about the destinations (“only flying one-way to The Hague”), so even the inventor of the death ray was a better alternative. The museum itself features an amazing collection illustrating the complexity of local history. So, the Yugoslav pilots flew just about any plane in WWII – German, Russian, Italian, French, British – anything they could lay their hands on, resulting in an impressive collection. The star of the exposition is undoubtedly the Stealth Fighter wreckage, certainly the only one on display anywhere in the world.
- Signal de Botrange, Belgium
I have described this unique location earlier here. Its the highest point in Belgium. In order to achieve a 700 meter altitude, the Belgians built a 6-meters high tower on the otherwise unidentifiable 694 meters “high point” on a flat windy marsh. It takes a lot of effort to find this place and once you found it you wonder why were you looking for it and how do you get away as fast as possible.
- Zivilschutz-Museum, Zurich, Switzerland
In the middle of Zurich, under a green garden hides the most exclusive museum I know of. Open on every first Sunday of the month, between 14:00 and 16:00, the (free) visit includes a guided tour, given in magnificent Swiss German. The guide, a former employee of this air-raid bunker/fallout shelter/commando post, appears on almost every photo on display and it seems as if the whole venue is a private vendetta of his to save some Cold War legacy for future generations. Walking through the 6 underground floors gives a good image of the madness and naivety of the era. I mean, hometrainers for electricity generation? That’s your answer to the A-bomb? And did they really think that a horse-drawn field kitchen is a legitimate piece of military equipment in the 1960’s?
- Zivilschutz-Museum, Zurich, Switzerland