When we think of village, we usually think lush green surroundings, cattle in the back yard, and small houses where people live in peace and quiet. Most villages in the world fit this picture but not all. There are some villages which will definitely tickle your fancy with their weird and quirky people, surroundings, or structures. For example, there is a village in Africa’s Burkina Faso where crocodiles and humans have lived side-by-side in peace for over 600 years. Keep reading this article to find out more about 10 unusual villages of the world that you never knew existed.
1. There is a village in Russia where every able-bodied resident can tightrope walk. The tradition goes back more than 100 years, and nobody is sure how it started.
Nestled in midst of the hills of the Greater Caucus Mountains, Russia, there is a tiny, secluded village named Tsovkra-1. The special thing about this village is that every physically able resident can walk a tightrope. In Tsovkra-1, the tradition of tightrope walking has been in existence for over 100 years. No one actually knows how it started. But according to a legend, the tightrope walking tradition evolved as a way to expedite romantic encounters. It states that a long time ago, the young men of this village grew bored of the long trekking required to court the women of neighboring mountainside villages. So, they strung a rope from one side of the valley to another. While most hauled themselves across, the daring ones began to walk the rope to show off. Soon, walking on the tightrope became a prized test of manhood.
Over time, Tsovkra-1 produced 17 men and women who became famous for their tightrope-walking skill in circuses. The most glorious days were the decades following World War II. At that time, circuses were extremely popular, and they recruited the best performers from this village. Currently, the village is home to less than 400 people, all of whom possess this skill. Even children are taught tightrope walking in school. However, the tradition is in danger of disappearing since most young people of this village are fleeing due to the hard living conditions and poverty. However, for now, the locals still pride themselves on their amazing skill. (source)
2. Villagers in the Indian village of Marottichal began playing chess after a ban on alcohol in their area. The village is now known as “Chess Village” due to its near-100% chess literacy.
About fifty years ago, Marottichal village was just like the other villages located in northern Kerala. Its inhabitants were alcohol addicts, and illicit gambling was common among its small population. During that time, one of the villagers, Unnikrishnan, developed a zeal for chess while living in a nearby town. When he moved back to his village, he opened a tea shop. Unnikrishnan began teaching the customers how to play chess. The game’s popularity began to increase, and soon almost everyone was hooked on chess. As the addiction to chess grew, drinking and gambling declined.
Now, the Marottichal village is famous throughout the world for their chess-addict inhabitants. Even children of this village love to play the game. Its popularity can be gauged by the fact that their chess association has requested school authorities to include chess in the school syllabus. Moreover, visitors from the US and Germany visit this village to learn the game or hone their skills. (source)
3. The Rainbow Family Village is a village in Taiwan whose every surface is filled with colorful imagery painted by a 96-year-old war veteran in order to save the village from being demolished. The paintings brought in so many tourists that the mayor ordered that the village be preserved.
During the Chinese Civil War, Kuomintang (KMT) nationalists fought against the Chinese Communist parties. In 1949, as Mao Zedong created the People’s Republic of China, KMT members fled from China to Taiwan. In Taiwan, they started living in a military dependents’ village. These were meant to be temporary dwellings, but over time, the homes became permanent residences. One such village was located in the Nantun District of Taichung, Taiwan. Huang Yung-Fu was one of the original residents of this village.
Over time, developers started buying the run-down properties and began paying its residents to move out. About eleven years ago, the government threatened to demolish the village. But Yung-Fu didn’t want to leave the only place he had known as home. At the ripe age of 86, he picked up his paintbrush and began painting his house. Soon, he began painting neighboring houses, streets, and covered every centimeter of concrete with drawings and figures. The colorful village began attracting attention, and people started visiting it. As its fame grew, it became a hotspot tourist destination.
Today, every inch of the village is covered in figures of tigers leaping from walls, wide-eyed pandas, peacocks, whiskered kittens, floating astronauts, dancing samurais, kissing sweethearts, and various other drawings. As a result, the village has been re-named the “Rainbow Family Village” and Huang Yung-Fu is known as “The Rainbow Grandpa.” His psychedelic rainbow paintings ultimately saved the village from demolition. Now, every year more than a million visitors visit the place and are amazed by the tens of thousands of illustrations and are eager to meet the person who created them. (1, 2)
4. There is a secured village in the Netherlands specifically for people with dementia where the patients are allowed to live a normal life while being monitored and assisted by caretakers in disguise. The village-cum-nursing-home has its own shops, restaurants, and even movie theaters.
Hogewey, a tiny village at the edge of Amsterdam, has everything – restaurants, shops, a movie theater, and even a hairdresser. In the 23 apartments of the village, the 152 residents spend their days in peace. The only thing that makes it different from the rest of the villages in the world is that it is not actually a village. Hogewey is a nursing home, and the residents are dementia patients.
Hogewey is quite similar to a movie set. While in most nursing homes, doctors and nurses walk around in drab white uniform. In Hogewey, they play the role of the shopkeepers, restaurant managers, and even supermarket cashiers. The nurses become neighbors who chat with residents instead of dictating medications to them. Hogewey patients lead a normal life where they are at ease with medical staffs. Also, they require less medication as they feel at home. Since its inception, Hogewey has received praises from Alzheimer’s experts in the U.S. Although Hogewey’s kinder approach has been received with appreciation, it doesn’t come cheap. Building Hogewey has cost roughly $25 million dollars. (1, 2)
5. Seattle has a “tiny house” village that can be rented by homeless people to sleep, eat, and shower. It costs the residents $90 a month which covers utilities and is designed to help them get back on their feet.
In 2016, Seattle took a huge step to improve the condition of homeless people by opening the first tiny-house village. This village is a unique initiative that allows homeless people to live in fully constructed and insulated houses. Built on the grounds of the Lutheran Church of the Good Sheppard in the central district of Seattle, each home costs $90 per month. In a city like Seattle where rents are skyrocketing day by day, the tiny-house village is a safe and cheap haven for homeless people.
Each house in the tiny-house village cost about $2,200 to build. The costs were covered mostly through donations, and the houses were constructed through the help of volunteers from several organizations. Each home is well insulated and has electricity and a lockable door. There is a central building with flushing toilets and water for showers. Also, the site has 24-hour security. Since during winter season temperatures in Seattle can drop below freezing at night, the “tiny house” provides the homeless people a warm place to spend the nights in at a bare minimum charge. (source)