Mysterious Places Considered The 'Area 51' Of Their Country

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Vote up all the most intriguing mysteries.

Area 51 is likely the best known mysterious location in the US. Tucked away deep in the Nevada desert, it's a secretive US Air Force facility - and the secrecy that shrouds its work has given rise to theories that paranormal investigations, mysterious tests, and downright shady activities go on there.

But Area 51 isn't the only place in the world shrouded in mystery. Most people have heard of the Bermuda Triangle and Roswell, NM - but what about Romania's Hoia Baciu Forest or Bonnybridge, Scotland? From super-secret spy centers and nuclear facilities that attract shadowy thieves, to cities with unusually high numbers of UFO sightings, the world is filled with eerie places that are secret, cursed, supposedly supernatural, or sites of dubious government business.

  • 1
    238 VOTES

    The Supposedly Haunted Hoia Baciu Forest Is Called The 'Bermuda Triangle Of Romania'

    As the homeland of the fictional vampire Dracula, Transylvania - a region in Romania - has creepy credentials beyond repute. But Transylvania has another claim to unsettling fame: It's the home of Hoia Baciu Forest, considered among the world's most haunted woods. 

    Fitting in with Transylvania's rich history of myths and legends, Hoia Baciu is home to decades of unexplained phenomena and paranormal sightings. Trees there grow in strange shapes and patterns; there's also a circular clearing in the forest's center where nothing grows. 

    Besides local legends about people's disappearances (and sometimes weird reappearances), the forest is associated with other unexplained circumstances. Phones have been known to malfunction in the forest, and people sometimes report feeling ill while visiting it.

    Interest in Hoia Baciu as a center of paranormal activity began in earnest in 1968, after Emil Barnea, who was formerly employed by the Romanian military, released a photo of a UFO he said he and his girlfriend spotted above the tree circle. As journalist Sophie Buchan recounted in The Independent:

    What differentiates this story from other UFO claims is that Barnea had nothing to gain from reporting the sighting, and everything to lose. The Communist government equated a belief in the paranormal with madness and state-sabotage, and Barnea lost his job in a country which had no support for the sacked.

    The eerie happenings in Hoia Baciu have inspired some to dub it the "Bermuda Triangle of Romania."

    238 votes
  • Nobody Knows What Goes On In Mezhgorye, A Russian Town Closed To The Public
    Photo: Pesotsky / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 3.0
    265 VOTES

    Nobody Knows What Goes On In Mezhgorye, A Russian Town Closed To The Public

    The town of Mezhgorye in Russia's Ural Mountains isn't likely to appear on tourist itineraries; it's closed to the public. Instead, it's the site of a top secret - and mysterious - subterranean military base, and all visitors to Mezhgorye must obtain permission to go there.

    No one seems to know precisely what goes on at the military complex, but some clues exist. It was designed to be a safe space during a nuclear attack, and even though the Cold War officially ended decades ago, Russia maintains and has expanded the site's nuclear safeguards. It's possible Mezhgorye is a storage facility for nuclear weapons, a military laboratory, or something else entirely - the world may never know.

    265 votes
  • India's Padmanabhaswamy Temple Contains A Mysterious, Sealed Vault That Might Hold Untold Riches
    Photo: Alaison bennny / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
    230 VOTES

    India's Padmanabhaswamy Temple Contains A Mysterious, Sealed Vault That Might Hold Untold Riches

    Southern India's Padmanabhaswamy Temple is widely reputed to be the world's richest religious site. It dates to at least the 8th century and honors the god Vishnu. For centuries, Hindus made gifts and offerings to Vishnu at the temple - and their gifts, along with some of the royal family's wealth, were stored in the temple's vaults. 

    In 2011, most of the vaults were opened, yielding golden treasures worth billions.

    But one remained sealed: Vault B, the most mysterious chamber and the one rumored to be the most bejeweled. Legend has it that whoever opens Vault B risks catastrophe. According to some urban myths, cobras guard the vault.

    In 2020, India's Supreme Court declined to open it. Its ruling seemed to validate claims from both the Travancore royal family - who consider themselves to be servants of the temple - and religious officials who have positioned Vault B's potential wealth as a religious matter.

    To reaffirm their stance, the royal family even arranged for a ceremony to determine how Vishnu felt about the prospect of opening the vault. According to an astrologer involved in the ceremony: 

    It is advised that the wealth found in the chambers is not moved out. These are not just valuables but also divine, and displacing this will invite the wrath of the Lord.

    230 votes
  • The 'Zone Of Silence' In Mexico's Mapimí Biosphere Reserve Is Supposedly A Communication Dead Zone
    Photo: José Antonio Aranda Pineda / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
    187 VOTES

    The 'Zone Of Silence' In Mexico's Mapimí Biosphere Reserve Is Supposedly A Communication Dead Zone

    The Mapimí Biosphere Reserve in Mexico's Chihuahua Desert showcases natural ecosystems in the area, but it's also home to something else: La Zona del Silencio, or Zone of Silence.

    Why the noiseless nickname? According to urban legends, radio signals and cellphone service supposedly fail in the area. Some people say the zone is also silent because strange things happen there that aren't communicated to the public.

    In 1970, for example, a US rocket test went wrong when the device mistakenly landed in the Zone of Silence. The rocket had radioactive components, so the US sent a team to clean the surrounding area - prompting some to wonder if there was a cover-up.

    The zone is also where many people claim to have witnessed paranormal activity, including UFOs and alien visitors.

    187 votes
  • 5
    164 VOTES

    The US Maintains A Secretive Spy Base In The Australian Outback

    If Hollywood or The New York Times bestseller list is to be believed, the US maintains a robust spy network across the world, with espionage bases tucked away in nature. If Pine Gap in Australia is any indication, the stories about American espionage aren't totally overblown. 

    Pine Gap, located south of Alice Springs in Australia's Outback, was born during the Cold War in an effort to surveil the Soviet Union and other countries; both Australia and the US maintain the base. Although Pine Gap purports to be a surveillance center, no one knows what exactly takes place there. Former National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden leaked information in 2013 about American activities, including evidence that Pine Gap contributed to "both intelligence activities and military operations," as reported in official documents.

    Indeed, some people have determined that Pine Gap's claims of being a national security center downplay its more dubious activities. As scholar Richard Tanter told The Intercept in 2017:

    …Pine Gap is involved, for example, in the geolocation of cellphones used by people throughout the world, from the Pacific to the edge of Africa. It shows us that Pine Gap knows the geolocations - it derives the phone numbers, it often derives the content of any communications, it provides the ability for the American military to identify and place in real-time the location of targets of interest.

    164 votes
  • 6
    148 VOTES

    South Africa's Pelindaba Nuclear Research Center Was The Target Of An Attack - And No One Knows Who Organized It Or Why

    The nucleus of South Africa's nuclear program is the Pelindaba Nuclear Research Center, a facility near Pretoria, the country's capital. Although the facility has been operational since the 1960s, it hasn't stuck to one thing. Instead, it's taken on a variety of nuclear activities, including the development of weapons, medications, and nuclear reactors for energy.

    Pelindaba's work has even made it the target of a mysterious attack. In 2007, four men attempted to raid the facility, shooting an employee in the process. Their raid was unsuccessful, and they escaped before officials could capture and question them, leaving their motives unknown. Who were they, and why had they attacked Pelindaba? What were they looking for? Were they rogue actors, insider thieves, international agents, or something else entirely?

    According to the Center for Public Integrity, an independent report concluded “the raid was a carefully planned operation, that it relied on inside help, that those involved had special training, and that it probably targeted the [facility's] nuclear explosives.”

    148 votes