31 Surprising Facts About World’s Most Popular Tourist Destinations

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1Hollywood sign

On January 1st, 1976, the Hollywood sign was modified to read 'Hollyweed' after some pranksters added $50 of fabric to it.


2. The Hollywood Walk of Fame star for Muhammad Ali is the only one that's placed on a wall and not on the ground because Ali “did not want the name of Muhammad to be stepped on.”


3. The Great Sphinx of Giza is so old that its first restoration dates to 1400 B.C., when it was already a thousand years old.


4. The Tower of London's ravens are enlisted as soldiers of the Kingdom. As in the case with soldiers, the ravens can be dismissed for unsatisfactory conduct. Raven George (Enlisted 1977-1986) lost his appointment to the Crown and was retired to Wales for attacking and destroying TV aerials.


5. The Notre-Dame Cathedral features a carving of a knight fleeing from a rabbit, symbolizing cowardice. This carving inspired the Rabbit of Caerbannog scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.


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6Chichen Itza pyramid

If you clap your hands at the base of a Chichen Itza pyramid, the echo you hear back sounds similar to chirps made by birds.


7. The Taj Mahal was covered with a huge scaffold during World War 2 to make it look like a stockpile of Bamboo to protect it from German Bombers. This was done again during 1965 and 1971, when Pakistan waged wars against India.


8. The whitewashed village of Juzcar, Spain used 4,000 liters of paint to turn the entire village blue for the release of Smurfs (2011). After the movie had been released, residents voted to keep it blue as it had helped increase tourism.


9. The traffic on the Arc de Triomphe roundabout in Paris is so chaotic, insurance companies will always split the liability of an accident 50/50.


10. Angkor Wat in Cambodia is the largest religious structure in the world. It is 80 times bigger than St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, and at least 3.5 times bigger than the Vatican City itself. It was built to the Hindu god Vishnu by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the period 1113–50.


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11Parthenon

In 1687, the Parthenon in Athens exploded when it was hit by a Venetian mortar round in a war between Venice and the Turks. The building was being used by the Turks to store gunpowder. One account says the Turks did not expect the Venetians to target such a historic monument. 300 people died.


12. The Easter Island heads actually have bodies that were swallowed by the ground due to the sheer age of the statues. Their burial also preserved ancient petroglyphs from erosion.


13. After a 10 year, $40 million project, the Leaning Tower of Pisa stopped moving for the first time in its 800-year history. The tower is now expected to stay stable for at least 200 years.


14. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco was not originally going to be painted orange. The orange color was only supposed to be for a sealant and was to be painted with black and yellow stripes to ensure visibility by passing ships. The orange color worked better for fog so it was kept instead.


15. Disneyland had to close the "It's a Small World" ride for several months in 2007 for renovations because people were too fat for the ride and the boats were regularly getting stuck.


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16Great Pyramid of Giza

The Great Pyramid of Giza was once covered in highly polished white limestone before it was removed to build mosques and fortresses.


17. Grand Central Terminal in New York City is so radioactive that full-time workers are exposed to more radiation than is permitted in nuclear plants.


18. The eternal flame at Arc de Triomphe in Paris has only been extinguished once by drunken Mexican football fans who urinated in it after the final of the 1998 World Cup when France defeated Brazil.


19. China's Terracotta Army were handmade, have functioning weapons and every face is unique.


20. The Forbidden City, built-in 1420, was so well-designed that it withstood over 200 earthquakes and can withstand one with a magnitude of 10.1 on the Richter scale.


21Gambling Destinations

Las Vegas is a long way from being the gambling capital of the world. Macau’s gambling revenue is a whopping 5 times larger. Both of them are beaten by Japan. About 4% of Japan's GDP is generated by Pachinko gambling. The revenue Japan collected from these machines was more than Last Vegas and Macau combined.


22. The famous Las Vegas Strip is not actually in the city of Las Vegas. It sits immediately south of the city limits and is technically located in the unincorporated towns of Paradise and Winchester, Nevada.


23. Yellowstone National Park was established by the US Congress in 1872 and is widely considered the first national park in the world. At 2.2 million acres, the park is larger than the state of Rhode Island and since the 1960s it has been attracting at least 2 million tourists per year.


24. As recent as 1867, it was illegal for foreigners to visit Japan so no tourism existed for all of Japan's history. It was only after 1867 and the Meiji Restoration that it became legal for foreigners to enter Japan.


25. The founder of the Smithsonian, James Smithson, was a British scientist who willed his fortune to his nephew and in the event, his nephew died with no heirs, to the US government to set up an “Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” James Smithson had never visited the US in his lifetime.

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