From spider-infested museums to bizarre laws and legendary events, cities around the world often provide rather surprising peculiarities. Here are 15 examples
#1 800 years ago, the city of London rented a property from the royal family. Since then, during an annual ceremony, the authorities pay the same rent as at the beginning — an axe, a knife, 61 nails and six horseshoes per year. However, nobody knows where the property actually is.
#2 There is a museum in Helsinki, Finland, that has been infested with venomous recluse spiders — Loxosceles laeta — originally from South America. The spiders are very resistant and almost impossible to kill. Till this day, nobody knows who brought them.
#3 Despite its overwhelming traffic conditions, Paris has zero STOP signs for cars. The last one was removed in 2013 and the city has been “non-stop” ever since.
#4 Seattle is simply an outstanding place compared to other US cities. The birthplace of Starbucks and Boeing, and home to the world’s first petrol station, prides itself with the title of the most literate city in the whole country. Not only does it have the highest rate of people having at least a college degree, but the demographics also suggest Seattle has more households with pets than with children.
#5 The city of Utrecht in the Netherlands celebrated the 110th birthday of British author George Orwell by placing party hats on surveillance cameras to commemorate his iconic 1984 novel.
#6 When McDonald’s opened its very first restaurant in Moscow in 1990, people generated a queue stretching for several miles. The restaurant reportedly served more than 30,000 customers on that day, a record that has not been broken yet.
#7 Mexico City is actually built on a lake called Texcoco which continuously makes the city sink. Sometimes, it can go down even by nine metres per year.
#8 The world-famous Hollywood sign in Los Angeles attracts millions of visitors every year. But it is a little-known fact that when the sign was initially erected in 1923, it didn’t say only Hollywood, but HOLLYWOODLAND. Its main purpose was to advertise a new segregated housing development in the hills above the Hollywood district.
#9 Cities in Greece, such as Thessaloniki, struggle with creating an efficient underground transportation system. During the attempts of its construction, workers keep digging up ancient ruins the cities are forced to secure.
#10 Hamburg’s very well known party district of Sankt Pauli welcomes millions of visitors each year. However, the locals got fed up with drunk people causing a mess and, mainly, urinating everywhere. That’s why they sprayed walls and houses with a special liquid that sprinkles the pee back at the troublemakers making their night a little less fun and way more trouble.
#11 Singapore is often described as a city with the most strict — and sometimes pretty bizarre — rules. For instance, singing, reciting or uttering any ballad or obscene song in public is illegal and could get you jailed for three months. The same punishment is linked to another mischief — connecting to another person’s Wi-Fi. And no matter what you do in your house in Singapore, don’t you dare walk around naked. Nudity in your own house is related to pornography charges of up to $1,000.
#12 The Italian town of Alberobello in the Puglia region is famous for its beehive-like houses called trulli. The reason for their construction was not experimental aesthetics but simply taxes. To avoid paying the state for its existence, the town was filled with these easily dismantled houses so that it couldn’t be recognised as an inhabited settlement.
#13 Calcutta has become the only major city in India where the number of bicycle rides (11 per cent of all commute) is greater than the number of car journeys (8 per cent).
#14 Amsterdam is a city built on eleven million wooden poles. They are 15–20 metres long and placed in a sandy layer which is around 11 metres deep. While the main train station — Amsterdam Centraal — alone needs 9,000 poles to be supported, an average house usually needs only around ten of them.
#15 Croissants are considered one of the symbols of France, however, they seem to have a Viennese origin. The pastry is based on Austrian kipferl bakers in Vienna made to commemorate the country’s victory over the Ottoman Turks in 1683. Kipferls’ shape resembled the crescents seen on the enemy’s uniforms.