There are many beautiful sights to see when traveling in Europe–things you will tell your friends and relatives about to go along with all the pictures you took. And then there are the stories you tell your close friends while you’re enjoying a few at the local pub. This is a collection of those funny and unique oddities that you might not want to tell Grandma about.
Sedlec Ossuary – Czech Republic
Just outside of Kutna Hora is the little town of Sedlec in the Czech Republic. This is an easy day trip with a Prague car rental and is very popular among tourists. The town is only famous for its little bone church, but is still worth the trip. Sitting below the Church of All Saints is the Sedlec Ossuary. This is a huge collection of bones which have been arranged as art on the walls. Dating back to the 15th century, the ossuary was built to make room in the small adjacent cemetery for more burials. However, it wasn’t until 1870 that the collected piles of bones were put to any artistic use. The town hired a local wood carver to make use of the unused bones. One of the most impressive pieces is the coat of arms that represents a well known family during that time period. The other is the massive working chandelier in the main room. For many, this might seem a bit macabre, but there is also a lot of beauty in how the bones are displayed.
Manneken Pis – Brussels, Belgium
Not many people would think that a statue is unusual, but what if that statue was frozen in time in a less than dignified pose? Perhaps it’s a little gross and to some might seem a bit tacky, but it is considered a classic Brussels experience. This little statue is Manneken Pis and has been a Brussels landmark since 1619. Multiple times a week, the caretakers dress this small bronze statue in different costumes. His wardrobe is made up of several hundred different costumes, many of which can be viewed in a permanent exhibition inside the City Museum.
Tiger and Turtle — Magic Mountain – Duisburg, Germany
From afar this may look like a roller coaster, but one you get close you’ll see that this steel structure is actually navigated by foot. The sculpture stands 68 feet high atop a large hill in Duisburg, Germany. The “track” is 722 feet long and only 3 feet wide. Once you arrive you will be immediately compelled to walk its 249 steps. At night, an intricate LED system illuminates the installation with an impressive glow. Sadly, the loop-dee-loop has a barrier preventing any daredevils from trying to see if they can make it.
Highgate Cemetery – London, England
Highgate Cemetery was part an initiative to provide seven large, modern cemeteries, known as the “Magnificent Seven” around the perimeter of London. What makes this cemetery different from the rest is that it has become a de facto nature reserve due to grounds’ numerous trees, shrubbery and wild flowers which took root and grew without human influence. It is as if nature is slowly reclaiming the cemetery, inch by inch. Another odd fact is that it is rumored to have around 170,000 people buried in around 53,000 graves. Highgate is also famous for the people buried within, most notably, German philosopher, Karl Marx.
Wieliczka Salt Mine – Poland
The Wieliczka Salt Mine dates back to the 13th century and until its closing in 2007, was one of the world’s oldest producers of table salt. Today, the mine is a major tourist destination with many different underground attractions to see. There are dozens of statues, three chapels and an entire cathedral that has been carved out of the rock salt by the miners themselves. Approximately 1.2 million people visit the mine annually. Some of the sculptures are centuries old, while others are more modern and contemporary.