03/01/2014 08:00 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

16 Local Legends You Should Probably Pay Attention To

There's something hallowed about visiting a place of legend. To think that thousands of people over dozens of centuries have kissed the same stone, or climbed the same bell tower, or petted the same bronze boar-turned-pig as you, hoping for their own wishes to come true, brings a deeper meaning to travel.

Invite a little luck -- and a lot of superstition -- into your trip at these places where myth meets mystery.

1. This little owl sits in a wall in France's ancient city of Dijon. His stone face is all mushed from generations of passersby petting him for good luck (with their left hands, of course).
dijon owl

2. The town of Freiburg is snuggled in the Black Forest, Germany's beautiful-but-mysterious mountain range. Little streams of water weave in and around the cobblestone streets-- if you slip into one on accident, it's said you'll marry a Freiburger.
freiburg stream

3. Edinburgh Castle in Scotland has served as a war fortress, royal residence, and army headquarters... and it's known to be haunted. A little-known legend says that if you walk under the drawbridge as a university student, you'll fail your finals. Spooooky.
edinburgh castle

4. Thousands of tourists throw coins (with their right hands, over their left shoulders) into the Trevi Fountain every day with the hope of returning to Rome. Their tosses totaled over $3,000 per day in 2012... the Italian charity that collects the money couldn't be happier.
trevi fountain coin

5. Trying to get pregnant? Rub the "manhood" -- that's right, the "manhood" -- of Victor Noir at Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Whoever made this bronze rendition of the 19th-century journalist gave him some extra oomph in the pants, and petting it is said to bring fertility.
victor noir

6. Il Porcellino -- aka "the piglet" -- is a bronze boar that lives in Florence's open-air market. Feed him a coin for good luck, and then rub his snout to ensure a return to Florence. Il Porcellino's lucky power is debatable, though, since he's just a copy of a copy.
il porcellino

7. There are many strains of the legend, but one says that after kissing the Blarney Stone, Lord Cormac McCarthy successfully persuaded Queen Elizabeth of England not to steal his rightful Irish land. Tourists still kiss the Blarney Stone while flipped upside down, hoping to contract its "gift of gab" (and hopefully not its diseases).
blarney stone

8. Casa di Giulietta is supposedly the Shakespeare-inspired courtyard home to Romeo's Juliet. If you write a letter to the star-crossed lover and post it on the wall beneath her balcony, she'll help you in love (an official response, though, might come from a club of secretaries who read and personally respond to as many letters as they can).
juliet verona

9. Walk down the main street in Old Town Dubrovnik, Croatia, and you'll find a weirdly large number of men stripping their shirts. There's a stone head (well, it's actually an ancient drainpipe) built into the wall-- legend says that if you can balance on it while taking your shirt off, you'll be lucky in love.
dubrovnik balance

10. The Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin, a little church in Rome, is home to the Mouth of Truth. If you tell a lie with your hand in his mouth, this stone creature will bite your hand off... just ask Audrey Hepburn.
mouth of truth

11. Being on Bled Island in Slovenia is a fairytale enough, but legend says that if you ring the church bell three times, your wish will come true.

12. Diyarbakir, a historic town in Turkey, boasts a Four-Legged Minaret in a mosque from the 1500s. If you stroll around the pillars of the tower seven times, all your wishes will be granted. Sounds like a sweet trade to us.
four legged minaret diyarbakir

13. Want love that lasts forever? Secure a lock to Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence and throw the key into the river below. It's a nice story, but some think the legend is just a sham invented by the village locksmith to boost his revenue. City officials aren't too romanced by the concept, either-- they've been detaching locks from the bridge in recent years.

14. In Punta Arenas, Chile, you'll find a monument to Ferdinand Magellan, the guy who explored Patagonia, with an Indian perched on the statue's base. His dangling foot is all worn from travelers who kiss it, believing the legend that it will bring them enough prosperity to afford a return trip.
ferdinand magellan punta arenas

15. If you're looking to get in touch with the spirits, tour the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. Widow Sarah Winchester started building this estate and never stopped-- she says she designed the indoor windows and staircases with no end to confuse ghosts. Sarah claimed that goblins told her what to build.
winchester mystery house

16. An old priest named John of Nepomuk was thrown from Prague's Charles Bridge after refusing to reveal the queen's private confessions to the king. Nowadays, people stop at the eighth statue on the right side of the bridge (coming from the town square) to rub the image of John falling to his death. If you touch him, it's said you'll return to Prague. If you touch the golden cross that marks the spot where he fell into the river, your wish will come true in precisely one year and one day.
john charles bridge



Spooky Prague