What's the weirdest stuff that Europe has to offer?
July 12, 2017 8:01 PM   Subscribe

We want to take a trip overseas, but are having trouble narrowing down our options. The things that usually inspire me to travel are weird: installation art, immersive theater, quixotic architecture. Please help me choose the most peculiar of Europe's many marvels!

Here are the last few things that inspired me to undertake major trips: The House on the Rock, Meow Wolf, The Drowned Man. Anything that puts you in mind of any of those, especially Meow Wolf, would be grand. I'd like to see the Dragonfly Maze (I'm kind of a Kit Williams obsessive), and I was really excited about this thing in Berlin until I heard it closed. Barcelona is already on the list. I will go to the medical museum in any city, but there's one of those in every city; I'm interested in one-of-a-kind experiences. What weird shit should I know about that I don't?
posted by babelfish to Travel & Transportation (26 answers total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
I really love the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow, Poland. The chapel deep in the mine is really something. Some of the routes are more adventurous/strenous than others. It's a Unesco World Heritage site, but still relatively few people know about it, from what I can tell.

(I haven't been to the mine in Salzburg, but apparently that is quite popular as well, and you get to take a slide to the bottom of the tour.)
posted by ktkt at 8:40 PM on July 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

The concrete mushrooms of Albania?
posted by clawsoon at 8:52 PM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I made an FPP about one. In the Soviet Bunker -- an actual former-Soviet underground installation in Lithuania -- they've hired a bunch of ex-KGB interrogators and guards to recreate the experience of dehumanizing psychological intimidation of visitors. The Lithuanians who run it are trying to cure people of nostalgia for the USSR. I'm not sure I'm up for that level of immersive theater.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 8:53 PM on July 12, 2017 [8 favorites]

posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:02 PM on July 12, 2017

Dennis Severs' House in London is as immersive an historical experience as I've ever had. It's akin to a series of period rooms in a museum but it's much more than that. It's an entire home staged as a theatrical work without actors, a sort of 18th Century drama that's transpired just before you're arrival, a family history told through the spaces they've inhabited only minutes ago.
posted by theory at 9:13 PM on July 12, 2017 [13 favorites]

The travel guide Bollocks to Alton Towers is (despite its title) a relentlessly good hearted write-up of weird, underappreciated or otherwise unusual destinations in the UK. Even if you don't want to buy it the Wikipedia entry has links to pretty much all the places it discusses.
posted by howfar at 11:08 PM on July 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

Dali's house in Figueres?
posted by humboldt32 at 11:19 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

AltasObscura is a great site for discovering some of these places. My link is to their list of places in Scotland: I offer you murder dolls, a dog suicide bridge, the heads of giant mythical creatures, a book made from skin, a goblin hall, a pineapple house, Europe's oldest living thing, a cannibal's cave, the bones of St Valentine, a statue honouring a solider polar bear, a hill where down is up, a tomb for eagles, a tomb for oil rigs and an isle of anthrax. Come visit!
posted by rongorongo at 11:23 PM on July 12, 2017 [10 favorites]

Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic: A 13th century chapel whose interior is ornately decorated with the bones of some 50,000 people.
posted by little onion at 11:27 PM on July 12, 2017 [10 favorites]

Nimis in Ladonia (sweden actually) is awesome!!

posted by alchemist at 11:45 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

In London the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiousities

Meow Wolf sort of reminds me of a burn. In Europe there is Nowhere in Spain in July and Nest in Wales in May and a load of others.

If you like immersive theatre on the extremely interactive side (it's actually a larp), can get yourself to Denmark in October/November time and have the money you can go play Inside Hamlet.
posted by Erberus at 12:09 AM on July 13, 2017

Postman Cheval's Ideal Palace, Palais Ideal du Facteur Cheval in Drome, France was on my bucket list for a long time until I finally got a chance to visit it a few years ago. And it was awesome. Built entirely by hand for over 30 years by this 19th century French postman, using rocks he had collected on his daily rounds. Utterly surreal and every bit as fascinating as I had hoped.
posted by sively at 12:20 AM on July 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo are quite something. Hundreds of mummified human corpses all in fancy dress.
posted by el_presidente at 2:21 AM on July 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

HR Giger Bar
posted by hortense at 2:57 AM on July 13, 2017

I also came to suggest Postman Checal's Ideal Palace. If you're stopping by the area you could also hit Lyon (~1 he drive) where there is Jardin Rosa Mir, build by a Spaniard living in Lyon from shells and rocks. I haven't visited yet but it looks fascinating. Visiting hours are extremely limited though.
posted by newsomz at 3:14 AM on July 13, 2017

Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre in Glasgow.
posted by jontyjago at 4:17 AM on July 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum in Oslo, Norway. It's a bit out of the way (but accessible by mass transit + a short walk) and only open for a few hours on Sunday, but it's a singular experience and I really recommend it.

Most people know of his brother, Gustav, and his sculptures in the Vigeland Park and you should totally go there, too.(It's definitely weird and amazing, but it's not really obscure, if that's what you're going for.)
posted by darksong at 4:40 AM on July 13, 2017

I haven't been yet, but have always wanted to see the Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna.
posted by stillmoving at 5:12 AM on July 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Kelvedon Hatch 'secret nuclear bunker', in the greater London area? But that's more historical-artifact weird, not so much immersive-art weird.

MONA in Hobart, Australia is one of the most interesting art museum experiences I've ever had. It's run by a private owner with a lot of vision, gumption and money. They also do a summer and a winter arts festival (Mofo and Dark Mofo).
posted by yesbut at 5:14 AM on July 13, 2017

jontyjago beat me to suggesting Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre in Glasgow, so I'll second that. Also worth noting, I found out about it in this Scottish guidebook.
posted by snorkmaiden at 6:44 AM on July 13, 2017

The Musical Museum in Brentford (Hounslow, London, UK) contains one of the world's foremost collections of self-playing musical instruments, and the world's largest collection of historic musical rolls. It's open on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays. Try to get there near 11:30, 1:30 or 3:30 for demonstrations. I haven't been there in 40 years, but back then the tour guide went round the room like a mad demon setting all the instruments to playing.

It's just across the river from the lovely Kew Gardens, and not too far from Chiswick House, which are interesting on their own. For all of these, use the Kew Gardens tube station (District line), or Kew Bridge railway station.
posted by ubiquity at 6:49 AM on July 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't have any interest in it, but apparently there is a penis museum in Iceland.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:55 AM on July 13, 2017

The concrete mushrooms of Albania?

Seconding this. Albanian architecture is totally fascinating. I gather this might be a common term for all the pillboxes scattered around the countryside, but my friend from there also used "mushrooms" to refer to all of the (weird, hodgepodge, over-scaled, probably hideously unsafe, perpetually unfinished) buildings that have sprung up since the early 90s. I've never been anywhere else where the gas-station coffeeshop restaurant hotel with a cartoonish pseudo-classical design that wouldn't be out of place on the Strip in Las Vegas is a type of thing you see.
posted by brennen at 11:14 AM on July 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

not really weird but: Soane Museum in London is one eccentric but influential Londoner's house from late 18th/early 19th century - bit more focussed than the usual 'rich collector' houses because he was an architect? and had a career, not just cabinets full of junk, plus big collection of that famous begins with P? 16th century guy who did 'nightmare' architectural drawings of impossible buildings...
Germany, Holland and Czech Republic do incredible outdoor collections-of-buildings museums; if given a choice between a huge collection of buildings and anything else in these countries, in general choose the huge collection of buildings, it's always amazing. Saw a good one in Transylvania? (Czech Rep is so small you can find anything that roughly). The ancient castle near there is good too but i didn't get to see the glass lift office of the founder of Bata shoes - apparently he built a workers' village and a film school for his adverts which is still going today as just a film school. I'd have loved to have seen that glass lift
now the internet is far bigger than when i went and it's not actually glass:(
In Holland i loved the Zeeland museum (big collection of buildings...)(with water and boats). The housing in Rotterdam is weird, for some reason the Dutch prefer to build a crazy shape than not, eg zigzags and pyramids.
Have you tried AtlasObscura the website? they have a reliable collection of weird stuff (like metafilter and tumblr, i try to stay away as it's too interesting and i get stuck for hours ocd)
posted by maiamaia at 1:57 PM on July 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Demeure du Chaos outside of Lyon, France, sounds like it'd be up your alley.
posted by invokeuse at 6:49 PM on July 13, 2017

If you make it to London check out the Wellcome Collection. All sorts of medical curios. And entrance is free. Their current exhibitions.
posted by timelord at 8:25 PM on July 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older Social Media Marketing Courses   |   How do I tech career (or other career that is less... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.