#3. A National Monument That Has Stood Unfinished for Nearly Two Centuries
Although Scotland isn't a sovereign nation per se, it still enjoys a lot of the perks of one: It has its own fancy blue and white flag, a capital city (Edinburgh), and an official national dish concocted of a sheep's stomach stuffed with fried Mars Bars. It's even got its own national monument, cleverly named the National Monument of Scotland.
The Ridiculous Failure:
Back when the foundation was laid in 1822, the monument was meant to honor the Scottish soldiers who died taking turns kicking Napoleon's higher-from-the-ground-than-expected ass. This thing was going to be so badass that they were calling it a "Scottish Valhalla," which sounds like the place Highlanders go when they die. And that description isn't too far off -- the main structure was to be supported by catacombs inhabited by some of history's most important Scottish folk. Work on the monument started in earnest in 1826, but the money soon ran out, and the structure has loomed over the capital city, taunting its residents ever since. If it looks vaguely familiar, that's because the completed monument was supposed to look like this:
Many Americans don't know this, but Scotland is part of the larger nation of Greece.
The Greek Parthenon might look a tad worse for wear, but that's the thing about ruins: Even though they're not much more than a thin husk of their once-majestic selves, they remain standing through the millennia and enable future generations to bask in their fallen glory. Scotland, on the other hand, shed untold amounts of sweat, strained countless workmen's muscles, and quarried ass-tons of stone to build ... a ruin. They built a ruin from scratch. The 2,000-year-old ruin after which it was modeled still looks more complete than the National Monument of Scotland.
Though there have been numerous proposals to renovate this half-assed Scotch Parthenon over the years, each has crumbled before reaching fruition. As time went on, the monument became less a commemoration of fallen heroes and more a representation of everything that's wrong with the country. It earned itself nicknames like "Edinburgh's Disgrace" and "The Pride and Poverty of Scotland," which are admittedly tame compared to what Scotlanders call Mel Gibson for having to endure 20 years' worth of American tourists running around yelling "FREEDOM!" at the top of their lungs.
#2. The Tallest Building in Krakow Is a Cartoon Villain
Poland once had big plans for Krakow, its second-largest city. It was to become a veritable "Polish Manhattan," and acting as the heart of the city would be the Naczelna Organizacja Techniczna building, which would not only delight tourists with its dizzying bevy of consonants, but also act as a gateway to a brand spanking new skyscraper district.
One bright, crisp morning in 1975, construction workers rolled up their polyester bell bottoms, tightened the laces on their platform work boots, and set to pouring the foundations for the early stages of the (some might say overly) ambitious project, with a goal of having it fully completed in 30 years. By 2005, it looked like ... well, it looked like this:
On the plus side, tall buildings don't alter the view much when you can see straight through them.
The Ridiculous Failure:
Work on the first building came to a screeching halt in 1979, to be put on the back burner indefinitely in 1981. But even though it looked like a half-played game of drunken Godzilla Jenga, the appropriately named NOT Tower still held the honor of being the tallest building in Krakow. In fact, it holds that distinction right up to this very day, and it hasn't bulked up one bit in the ensuing years. Its wall- and window-starved appearance eventually gained the gaunt skyscraper a popular nickname: Szkieletor, or in English, Skeletor.
"Hehehahaha, fuck you, Castle Grayskull."
This was the '80s, remember. In addition to the public unrest that resulted in an 18-month bout of martial law, a much more important phenomenon was taking Poland by storm: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. So while the political and economic shitstorm of the 1980s unfortunately helped halt production on the NOT Tower, that same decade also gave it a bitchin' nickname.
The city eventually figured it may as well make some money off of its most monumental eyesore, so Krakow started selling advertising space on Skeletor:
Ah, Madagascar 2. Quite the underrated gem, that one.
It may have fallen just short of its lofty goal of becoming a Polish Manhattan, but damned if that ain't a dead ringer for Times Square.
#1. An Entire Brazilian City Full of Leaning Towers of Pisa
Located about 50 miles from the city of Sao Paulo, Santos is famous for its exquisite coffee, introducing the world to legendary ball-kicker Pele, and looking nothing at all like Los Santos in Grand Theft Auto V. Oh, and the city also has some lovely beaches. Unfortunately for your sense of vertigo, they decided to build a city on top of them.
Hey, you wouldn't stand up straight either if you lived in a constant state of spring break.
The Ridiculous Failure:
As you can see, the skyline of Santos looks like it's tragically overdue for a trip to the orthodontist. In total, almost 100 buildings are teetering as a result of a combination of location and engineers who seemingly got their fancy degrees via mail order. Before specific laws were put into place in the late '60s, these buildings were erected on foundations only 15 feet deep, or about one-third of the depth required to prevent them from stammering on and on about how they're sorry, baby, this never happens.
They're all failing their erectness exams, because under those foundations lies a huge amount of unstable soft clay that's even unstabler when you go and throw a shit-ton of buildings on top of it and right next to each other. It's like asking a toddler to spot you at the gym -- while it makes for a few good belly laughs, eventually somebody's going to end up with a powdered sternum.
When buildings do the hokey pokey, running for your life is what it's all about.
Perhaps the most ludicrous part is that people still live in these things, even though they presumably have to Velcro themselves onto the couch every time they want to take a nap. Local experts claim that there's no danger of a Rube Goldbergesque chain reaction that would result in citywide destruction, but it's entirely possible that they just don't want to give Hollywood any ideas about turning the game of dominoes into the next big summer flop-buster.
So far, only one especially skewed building has been corrected ...
... and repairing it cost about half a million in U.S. dollars, which means there are about half a million reasons that no one else has bothered to straighten out the other towers. And speaking of dollars, even enthusiastic assurances that the buildings won't fall haven't stopped their real estate values from plummeting. You can buy one of these fixer-uppers for as little as $30,000, a ridiculous bargain if you're looking to snatch yourself up a vacation home to relive your college spring break memories. After enough beers, it might even look straight again.