5 Impressively Insane Theories About Famous Buildings
Most countries and major cities have a few landmarks that wind up on all the postcards, like the Colosseum in Rome, Red Square in Moscow, and your mom in the San Fernando Valley. For every single one of these, there's also a fair number of people claiming the famed place is secretly used for whatever New World Order bullshit they last read about online. To these folks, the Denver Airport is an apocalyptic conspiracy hot spot instead of just having a truly shitty interior designer, and the Great Wall of China was probably designed to keep giant aliens out or whatever.
Let us once again take a long, unnecessarily sticky stroll through this paranoia-addled world where the answer to every question is either a wacky, far-fetched hypothesis or a good, old-fashioned wharglebargle it was all the Illuminati aaaaargh!
The Statue Of Liberty Was Constructed To Honor The Devil
The Statue Of Liberty is a famous, torch-bearing landmark of New York City that I'm not going to describe any further, because come the hell on, if you don't know what the Statue Of Goddamned Liberty is you're most likely a gaggle of shellfish reading this on a waterproof tablet someone dropped from the pier. I'm not going to provide you any unnecessary insight into our culture. I know all about the upcoming Clamocalypse, don't think that I don't.
As for our patently human readers: Say, have you ever wondered just why the French would give America a huge-ass, prominently displayed statue that was pretty much destined to be the ultimate symbol of what was already well on its way to becoming arguably the greatest city in the world? Why, for the glory of Satan, of course! Sacre bleu, those dastardly Frenchies fooled us yet again with their promises of friendship and giant copper ladies!
"So, about those tired, poor, huddled masses ..."
Apparently, the whole "Let's give our American friends a big-ass statue to symbolize their freedom" thing was a Freemason plot all along. They riddled Lady Liberty with all sorts of Luciferian symbols hidden in plain sight, and aspiring conspiracy theorists are coming up with new ones all the time. Some of the biggest supposed Satanic tells are the crown ("Those are totally horns, dude!") and the torch; after all, the Devil is known as Lucifer, which means Light-Bearer. How much more evidence do you need, sheeple?
Still, before we all start pooping in our shoes over the inevitable Kaiju-style deathmatch between Lady Li- Lucifer and Rio de Janeiro's own Christ The Redeemer, it's good to remember that even the conspiracy theorists throwing Illuminati/Freemason crap at every wall aren't actually claiming that the Statue Of Liberty is a literal depiction of the horns-and-hooves, ruler-of-Hell flavor of Devil. Instead, it's apparently a "holder of secret knowledge"-type figure that is occasionally associated with Masons.
As for the rest of us, we can probably just keep on thinking that the statue is one of the many historical depictions of the Roman deity Libertas, along with Columbia and that flag-waving lady in French revolutionary art. That way, we're free to ponder the really important questions, such as whether Lady Liberty is actually hiding one of those creepy GTA IV Easter egg hearts.
The Eiffel Tower Is A Secret Space Cannon
For much of its early existence, the now-iconic Eiffel Tower was a polarizing structure. Parisians used to hate it with the heat of a thousand exploding volcanoes, and the only reason it wasn't torn down just a couple of decades after completion was its handiness as a radio tower. Of course, its significant place in the ultra-secret French space agency mission doesn't exactly hurt its continued survival.
What, you don't know about the Eiffel Tower's secret space-launch program? Man, it's almost like you don't even believe in the things the purple men living in your nostrils whisper at night anymore. Next, you'll claim the lizard people aren't stealing all those socks from my dryer. Fine, I'll drop you a hint: Ever heard of the Eiffel Cannon?
Basically this, but pointed straight up and with a 1,000-foot tower in the middle of a residential area.
I have a soft spot for this particular theory, not because it's well-known -- on the contrary, there's barely any info about it online -- but because I've actually known about it for a while. A few years ago, I attended a paranormal convention for what I like to pretend was research purposes instead of plain ol' shits and giggles. One of the many pamphlets forced on me during the event mentioned a conspiracy about the Eiffel Tower being secretly converted into a Jules Verne-style space cannon. The hilarity of Paris drunkenly firing astronauts into the sky from a giant cannon-landmark in the middle of its historical center made the theory stick in my head, which is why I was overjoyed to find a brief online version. There are some differences, granted: Instead of turning the existing tower into a straight-up cannon, the contraption is supposed to be built around it, with the existing structure acting as a skeleton of whatever giant dong the secret scientists are plotting to stick in the face of Paris. Also, the thing is going to use wormhole technology, because of fucking course it will.
"See, honey, I told you they have a Space Mountain."
Look, it's no secret Gustave Eiffel used his tower for all sorts of science purposes. If you manage to build what is essentially a giant supervillain lair in the middle of a major city, it's practically against the law to not spend your days conducting strange experiments and dropping random shit from the top for, uh, science. However, there are all sorts of scientific experiments, and I'd wager that the ones where a famous historical structure built in the middle of a large city is converted into a bullshit wormhole factory would be enough to get even the most devoted member of the New World Order League Of Mad Scientists fired.
The Taj Mahal Is A Stolen Ancient Temple
Most people know the Taj Mahal, a Wonder Of The World and the single most famous building in India, as the stunning, white mausoleum a heartbroken Mughal ruler called Shah Jahan built for his dead wife in the 17th century. However, a man called P.N. Oak disagreed with this commonly accepted historical fact: According to his research (man, I feel like I should put that in quotation marks), Jahan had jack shit to do with the Taj Mahal -- he just stole another, far older building, super-glued some decorations to it, and threw the wife in.
Oak's claim was that the mausoleum is actually at least 300 years older than the "official" history says, and the sealed chambers of the Taj Mahal that are not open to the public are actually full of headless statues of Shiva, proof of ancient worship and, presumably, a really bored Mola Ram.
Full disclosure: This is the entire extent of my knowledge re: Indian temples.
And that might be true, I suppose. I mean, who am I to lecture anyone on the intricacies of Indian history? It's just that, when everyone else thinks your theories are laughably wrong, and you repeat the exact same claim about places like, oh, Vatican City, Kaaba, and Westminster Abbey, I feel an eyebrow slightly raising.
Also, once you start delving deeper into Oak's work, you find that his preferred title appears to have been president of the Institute For Rewriting World History. That could probably be taken as a hint, I guess. Or maybe I'm just a suspicious bastard by nature.
Stonehenge Is The Result Of A Team-Building Exercise
Not every hilarious theory has to be a straight-up conspiracy. Sometimes, real science likes to get in on the action too. Consider the ancient rock monument we know as Stonehenge -- one of the greatest archaeological mysteries in the world and the only reason anyone is even vaguely aware of Wiltshire, England. There are all sorts of theories about its original purpose, ranging from sinister sacrifice site to ancient astronomy lab to, of course, a whole bunch of tin-foil connections to bullshit such as ley lines.
Of course, the real purpose of Stonehenge was something far more sinister than even the most far-fetched crackpot theorist can dream up: It was a team-building exercise for Neolithic Britons.
"In our defense, it was either this or one of those fucking kayaking weekends."
What I love about this idea is that it's not so much your average conspiracy fodder as it is an actual (though pretty speculative) scientific theory proposed by researchers at the University of Sheffield. Although it does create hilarious mental images of a bunch of prehistoric dudes toiling over massive megaliths while a Neolithic Michael Scott attempts to deliver a clumsy lecture about the importance of teamwork, the theory does have some meat around its bones.
Back in the days Stonehenge was constructed (between 3000 B.C. and 2000 B.C.), the people of future England were rapidly developing something approaching an island-wide culture. Regionalism was giving way to a unified style of architecture, clothing, and cultural habits, and people were generally starting to prefer the "getting along with each other" style of living as opposed to the "stab everyone outside our tribe in the face ASAP" one they'd been embracing until then.
The theory proposes that the people of the island decided to celebrate this newfound unity by undertaking the massive task of hauling a bunch of giant rocks across great distances in order to construct a monument in a place they already held significant because of its perceived holy qualities (researchers found that the geography of the area "forms a line between the place where the sun rises on the summer solstice and where it sets in midwinter"). This would essentially make building Stonehenge one island-wide team-spirit-building effort, and the megalith structure itself a symbol of "unity among our people" not unlike St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican for Catholics and the U.N. headquarters for, well, pretty much everyone.
And that, reader, is how the people of England became best friends forever, and they never waged war with anyone ever again.
At least, not until Drustan pulled the old sickle-in-Jell-o prank on Brian,
and everyone went back to fighting with each other.
Mount Rushmore Shows Proof Of Alien Activity
Sometimes, the intrigue behind the bullshit surrounding a location comes not from the far-fetchedness of the theories but from how half-assedly they've been slapped together.
These days, pretty much every single major U.S. location comes with a heaping helping of UFO theories and sightings. However, most of them at least manage to have a couple of semi-convincing (by which I mean "not obviously faked by a 5-year-old") ones. You'd think that a genuinely unique place like Mount Rushmore would be among the most popular alien/Illuminati/ghost-demon/whatever locations. Yet, somehow, it is among all American monuments the sole recipient of the "worst Ed Wood bullshit in history" award.
Everyone knows Mount Rushmore has a bunch of faces carved on its side. You could almost say that's its entire schtick. However, there are those who say the glorious mugs of Teddy Roosevelt and the Three Stooges (or whoever those other dudes are) are ... not alone in their mountain. There are those who say that a force most dreadful has made its presence known in the area, leaving its own visage hidden among the stony presidents.
That force is, of course, aliens. Or demons, depending on whom you ask and what medication they happen to have forgotten to take.
"Guys, you really have to stop seeing aliens everywhere.
Also, I'm just a picture of a flower vase."
The thing is, those things are so pathetic I can't even tell if they're meant to be jokes or "genuine" spooky revelations. I'd include pictures of said faces, but frankly, I've been staring at the videos behind those links for like half an hour and I can't for the life of me see anything. As an owner of a clothes rack with an amazingly Slender Man-like silhouette, I love pareidolia just as much as the next guy, especially at 3 a.m. as I stumble toward the bathroom in the dark. But the videos behind those links make all those "faces on Mars" seem like Da Vinci paintings. And it's all like that; for every theory claiming there's some extraterrestrial element to Mount Rushmore, the "proof" presented looks like it was slapped together by a 7-year-old. Here's a UFO sighting that would make Ed Wood proud:
Here's another, somehow even less convincing, sighting:
Look, tin-foil people, I get that we're all eager to wake Stone Teddy Roosevelt in case he has to combat Devil Statue Of Liberty or just generally wreck shit. Still, I doubt annoying him with the laziest horse crap you can come up with is the best method to achieve this. Hell, even your generally unnecessarily elaborate Illuminati theories shrink to inane "uh, gotta be something there" rambling when it comes to Mount Rushmore. Why ... why is this? Are even the conspiracy theorists afraid to throw shade on a place with Teddy's face on it? Or is it ... something else? Goddammit, there must be more to this. Clearly, someone is hiding something from us, and these inane fabrications are meant to make anyone pointing out some genuine anomalies in the area seem like a total lunatic. But who could give such a shit about ensuring all alien sightings in the area are automatically deemed fake. Could it be the government? We already know there's a hidden vault corridor in the mountain. Maybe they've got a secret base there, and ...
... oh shit, now I'm doing it, aren't I?
Pauli is a Cracked weekly columnist and freelance editor. Here he is on Facebook and Twitter.
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For more from Pauli, check out 4 Creepy Ways History Was A Never-Ending Horror Show and 5 Creepy Murder Mysteries From History We'll Never Solve.