Sunday, June 3, 2012

10 Strange Places Where People Live

According to my knowledge there are five holly mountains in China and Heng shan or Mt.Hengis one among them that is located in the province of Shanxi. Overlooking the wooded Golden Dragon river also called as Jinlong he and close to the base of Mt.Hengis Xuankong Si, the meaning of this word is Monastery in Mid Air. People of China call it as Hanging Moastery. It was built in 491 AD and it still attaches to the side of the mountain, it has been built using techniques of engineering that are still of important interest to the architects of today. First, the horizontal shafts were cut into the side of the mountain to act as anchor points.

This amazing walled town has been created on the top of huge rocky outcrop in the Mountains of Haraz of western central Yemenin San ‘a’ Governorate region. The history of this place very ancient and even the residents of this place are not sure when the first settlers came here but it is said to date back to 12th century officially. The houses are made strong and they feature ample storage facilities such as reservoirs and granaries in case of siege. This is a remote and secluded place, its traditions and cultures have continued into 21st century too.

This is a strange but beautiful place situated in Turkey’s ancient region also known as Anatolia. It may be one of the oldest instances of non stop human habitation in the world. It is an amazing example of how people have given shape and altered the unusual geology which already existed and yet successful in holding on to natural mystery of is rocky spires and breath taking landscapes. It is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and you can find records of 6th century BC that explains it as one of the aged regions of thePersian Empire.

Located 355 kilometres to the south of Tunis (the capital of Tunisia) is the remarkable settlement of Matmâta.  Here the inhabitants have dug deep pits into the ground and then tunneled into the side walls to create their homes.  Not only is this site ancient and probably dates back to the Roman period and Punic Wars, its existence remained largely unknown until the mid 1960’s.  It truly came to the attention of the world when it was selected as the location for Luke Sky Walker’s home on the planet Tatooine in the Star Wars film – A New Hope (1977).   There are various legends to explain why the Berbers of this region started to build their homes in this fashion.  One is that it was to hide from the invading Egyptians and another is that they already existed to some extent and were the original caves of desert monsters that had long since departed.

In the city of Firenze (Florence) Italy is a remarkable bridge.  Known as the Ponte Vecchio, or the “old Bridge” in English, it spans the river Arno.  The bridge seen in the photograph was originally constructed in 1345AD after two of its predecessors had been destroyed by flood waters.  What makes it unusual is that it is one of the few surviving bridges to have tenanted shops built along its span.  Originally these were almost exclusively butchers, perhaps because of the direct access to the waters of the river and the ease of disposing offal and the like.  Over the centuries the shops and houses along the bridge were increased and so was its prestige.  In 1593 butchers were forbidden to sell on the bridge and the shops and houses were quickly taken over by gold and jewel merchants – a tradition that persists to this day.

In the heart of central Greece and on the edge of the Plain of Thessaly are the Metéora, which literally means the rocks suspended in air.  It’s from this word that we get the modern word meteors – rocks from outer space.  In reality they are pillars of harder than average sandstone that have survived the erosion of the softer material that once surrounded them.  Six religious retreats have been built on top of these pillars and one of the most famous is the Roussanou Monastery. It was rebuilt by two brothers, Maximos and Ioasaph (Joseph)*, in 1545 and dedicated to St. Barbara whose sacred day is the 4th of December.  Over the centuries its fortunes grew and faded.  From 1730 to 1937 it was largely uninhabited although many of its relics remained within its walls.  Shortly after the Nazi occupation of Greece in 1941 it was stripped of its treasures by the occupying soldiers.  Most of these have never been recovered. Since the construction of a wooden bridge in 1800’s it has been relatively easy to visit the location and the nuns are said to be quite welcoming.

This very strange place to live and is often described as a micro-nation due to that fact that it is (was) outside of the territorial waters of any country.  Some reviewers have even awarded it the status of the World’s smallest sovereign state.  In fact, it is an old world War II Maunsell Sea Fort and is about 13 kilometres off the island of Great Britain.  The nearest coastal town of significance is Harwich located in Suffolk.  Major Paddy Roy Bates, an already famous figure in British pirate radio, occupied the platform during September 1967 with the intention of broadcasting Radio Essex from the site.  Since this date the micro-nation of Sealand has had an interesting history including an invasion, a hostage crisis, hashish smugglers, several leadership battles, the assassination of Gianni Versace, a passport scandal and a minor diplomatic crisis involving Germany.

It’s amazing how people have the ability to take even the most unusual of environments and still find a way to build their homes. Setenil De Las Bodegas is one such place.  Located in the Andalucía province of Spain it has a history that may date back many thousands of years. What makes it special is the way that its inhabitants have carved away the walls of the gorge and then built their houses into the recesses. These are not the ruins of Mesoamerican Native Indians or the abandoned caves of lost biblical civilizations. These are homes that have been built and rebuilt over the centuries and are still occupied to this day.  Outcrops of ancient rock loom over the main street that has been built beneath.  In one place there are houses that have a million tons of rock above them and on top of that rock there are even more houses.

Literally translated the name means House of Stone and it is located in the Fafe mountains of Northern Portugal.  It is ten kilometres north-east of Fafe and can be found on Google earth at these co-ordinates: 41° 29′ 17.52″ N  8° 4′ 4.84″ W.   It was originally built as a mountain retreat around 1974 by an engineer from nearby Guimarães who was inspired by the natural space provided by four large boulders.  Due to its isolation it has on occasions been the target of vandalism and robbery.   Its unusual design has also stimulated a steady traffic of tourists who are not beyond peering through the windows or even trying to enter uninvited.  At the time of writing this article (2010) it is owned by Vitor Rodrigues who has had to have heavy security doors and barred windows fitted to protect the house. The interior is larger than might be expected and is beautifully rustic with a large wooden bench-style table and balconies.


Unless your name is Fred Flintstone, odds are you probably never really considered the idea of living in a cave. And hell, even old Fred didn’t live in a cave; he lived in a pile of rocks stacked precariously on top of each other, ready to collapse and wipe out his entire cartoon family at any moment. But I’m guessing your name isn’t Fred Flintstone, which means that’s all pretty much irrelevant. Just like the idea of living in a cave. But believe it or not, cave dwellings aren’t just for missing links or super villains. Nope, cave houses are for people like you and me. Well, if you have $1.9 million dollars to drop on one of these bizarre abodes, anyway. That’s roughly the asking price for a cave house that you can actually buy in Arizona, which is actually a pretty damn cool place. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, probably because it’s, ya know, a cave in the side of a mountain. But with three bedrooms and 37 acres, it’s the perfect staging area for covert missions against GI Joe.

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