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The Bielefeld Conspiracy

The Bielefeld Conspiracy, also called Bielefake, was launched in 1994 by the then computer science student Achim Held. The story that the sedate city on the edge of the Teutoburg Forest does not really exist was originally conceived as a party joke, but soon became an urban myth.

Rob Vegas (actually Robert Michel) is an emcee and student of political science, born in 1984 in (or so at least he says) Bielefeld. He is the host of the Rob Vegas Show, a weekly internet late-night show on which he satirically comments on current political events.
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The legend of the hitchhiker with hairy hands

This urban legend from Belgium warns women against murderers and violent men in general. Implicitly, it says that things are not always what they seem, and that behind a trustworthy façade can hide a monster.

In Belgium the legend has been told since at least 2000. It is particularly interesting because it features a real serial killer: the “Butcher of Mons”, who in 1993 and 2001 killed and beheaded several women in the Belgian city of Mons. There have been repeated reports of the murderer's re-appearance, which are regularly denied.
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São Paulo: Haunted City Center

Brazilian society is steeped in superstition and all sorts of fantastic notions. The city center of São Paulo is one of focuses for a number of “ghost stories”. Today there are even special guided tours for tourists offering nighttime “ghost hunts” in the largest urban center of the country.

One of the names that make up the canon of the city's horror stories is that of the German professor Julius Gottfried Ludwig Frank, a jurist who is buried in the courtyard of the University of São Paulo's Law Faculty. Around this grave over the years began to gather legends of a “tortured soul” that reportedly “roams the quarter by night”.
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The Curse of Inokashira Park

The urban legend that all couples who together go boating on the lake in Inokashira Park will break up is very old. It is based on a popular belief harking back to medieval times and is connected with “Benten”, the goddess of the arts, who is regarded as being an extremely jealous deity. Since she is traditionally associated with the element of water, her shrines are usually located near lakes, rivers and ponds throughout Japan.

So, too, in Inokashira Park: in this park in the most popular residential area of Tokyo, lovers still avoid taking a joint boat trip and making a visit to the Benten shrine. Fear of the goddess's jealousy is as alive today as it was a hundred years ago.
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”Black Roman“

”Black Roman“ has been roaming the streets of Warsaw now for several years. He walks quickly and conducts himself in an unusual manner. Sometimes he is in a good mood and compliments the passerby or confers on him or her a blessing; sometimes he threatens the passerby with apocalypse and makes mysterious prophecies – about the date of someone's death or a baleful murder.

Who is Black Roman really? A relict of a defunct system: a formerly wealthy currency profiteer who is now bankrupt? A deserted and plundered husband? Or perhaps a scientist who has had a serious accident?
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Ghost in the Palacio de Linares

This urban legend from Spain tells of a ghost that haunts the Palacio de Linares. The ghost is reputedly that of Raimunda, the daughter of the Marquis von Linares, who built the Palace in 1877. Today it houses the architectural jewel of the America House, the site of exhibitions and film series.

The rumor that the ghost of Raimunda haunts the building has proved a stubborn one. In 1990 what was alleged to be the voice of a girl was recorded there on tape and even broadcast on radio. In 2009 the historian Carmen Maceiras Rey attempted to prove in her book El secreto de Raimunda (The Secret of Raimunda) that the Marquis von Linares and his wife were half-siblings and for this reason arranged for the disappearance of their daughter Raimunda.
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The Phantoms of the Nusle Bridge

Since its construction in the 1970s, the Nusle Bridge in central Prague has had a dubious reputation. A mysterious gang operating there, it was said, threw solitary passersby into the abyss. Nobody could understand why the authorities did not put a stop to the killers. An explanation was soon found: the police tolerated the murders because they were committed by the sons of prominent members of the Communist Party.

After the fall of Communism, it transpired that this story was pure legend. The truth is that there were an unusually high number of suicides at the Nusle Bridge. Lest the reputation of the prestigious structure be harmed, the media concealed the suicides of nearly 300 desperate people.
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The Legend of Mami Watas

A long, long time ago, according to legend, mysterious beings of great beauty and awesome powers lived in the rivers and seas, which were called mami watas. They made a pact with the family of man that was to unite the descendants of all the peoples for all time and ensure their interests.

Those who have once been united with a mami wata, which they alone can see, will receive untold riches. But they must devote their whole lives to the spirit and worship it. Should a man or woman whom fate has destined to be a companion of the mami watas dare to break the ancient agreements, he or she will fall victim to their wrath, suffer torments worse than death and be transformed into an angry, embittered, vengeful creature, forever hungering after love.
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The Screamers

The Jerusalem syndrome is one of the few urban legends that is both a story and an undisputed fact. The bulk of those afflicted by the syndrome are tourists. The development of this psychotic disorder is bound up with the spiritual, religious and mystical qualities of the city.

The victims believe that they possess divine powers or are the incarnation of a biblical person. These delusions often express themselves in highly theatrical forms – for instance, in the attempt to proselytize others. The Jerusalem syndrome affects Jews and Christians alike, and even a Muslim minority. In recent decades more than 100 "serious cases" have been treated in Israeli hospitals.
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The Legend of the Monument to Peter the Great

In 1997, on the Golden Island, in the center of the Russian capital, the sculptor Surab Zereteli erected a nearly 100 meters high monument. It shows the reforming Czar Peter I. But, the Muscovites rumor, the gentleman with the scroll and wafting cloak isn't Peter at all, but actually Columbus.

Surab Zereteli, the founder of the first museum for contemporary art in Russia, wanted to give the Americans a Columbus statue for the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America. Nobody, however, not the USA, not Spain, not any Latin American country, wanted it. So, according to legend, in some mysterious way the statue received a new head, that of the first Russian emperor and now stands in Moscow.
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The Legend of the Ice Tunnels and Sorbet in Paris

The métro station Glacière recalls the legend of the ancient ice tunnels under the city. In 1533 Catherine de Medici is said to have introduced the fashion of eating ice-cream and sorbet in summer to France. To this end, ice from rivers and lakes was collected during the cold season and hermetically sealed away in subterranean chambers. A short tunnel gave access to the ice mines, which people henceforth used as refrigerators. At the end of the seventeenth century began sorbet's triumphant march through Paris: in 1686 Café Procope, one of the most famous and oldest cafés in the city, opened its doors in the square before the Comédie Française, offering an impressive 24 varieties of sorbet. It is said that the ice reservoir still exists.
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The Volcano Child

The legend of the volcano child rests on the belief in the existence of a subterranean volcano under the mountain Mont Royal. The legend takes us into a fantasy world where historical and mythological figures, facts and famous places mesh and collide. During the construction of the summit cross for the founding of Montréal (historical fact, localized and dated), the leading figures Jeanne Mance and Le Sieur de Maisonneuve (whose existence is historically documented) brought the volcano to life. A gigantic infant buried inside the mountain, the volcano child has been seen by the Indians for thousands of years as an angry spirit that must be fed in order to be appeased.
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The Evil Eye

Symptoms such as nausea, dizziness and attacks of sweating are evidence that a person has been put under the “evil eye”. Liberation from the evil eye is called xematiasma and is brought about, for example, by a ceremony of invocation involving oil. Those who have been freed from the curse afterwards have severe headaches or yawns, signs that the ceremony has been successful.

As prevention against the evil eye, people are advised to carry about on them the “blue eye”, a special blue amulet in the shape of an eye. It recalls the baleful gaze of blue-eyed people. Because destructive power never works against itself, the “blue eye” can serve as a counter spell that averts and banishes the evil eye. Hanging garlic in the entrance of the house is another means of protection against the evil eye, a practice going back to antiquity.
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The Legend of the Black Panther

For years black panthers have been sighted again and again in one or another Italian city. It is striking that the panther alarm occurs mainly in summer or the winter holidays, when many newspapers lack other news items. Anyway, in Pino Torinese the legend of the black panther has even been made into a play, and in Rome a student movement named itself after the dangerous beast.

The circumstance that only a black panther and no other animal is sighted may be traced to a literary work, namely the well-known novel Black Alibi by Cornell Woolrich, which was the source for the film The Leopard Man by Jacques Tourner.
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MP3 Kidnappings

The urban legend of the mysterious MP3 kidnappings has been in existence since 2010. It first spread among high school pupils. Presumably, the legend can be traced to circumstances in the lives of Korean teenagers: their lives are determined above all by evening preparations for the university entrance exam. Most Korean high school pupils often attend so-called “hagwons”, or private cram schools, until late at night. It is easy to imagine that many girls feel uncomfortable returning home late in the dark. To this extent the legend reflects the sad reality of Korean schoolgirls: they spend most of their time toiling in the rat race of South Korean society and the private school industry.
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The Marble Bride

When a legend persists for more than a century it probably embodies timeless fears, desires and ideals. This is the case of the Marble Bride: it is a manifestation of the fear of war and of the loss of our loved ones as of the longing for unconditional love and loyalty. Last but not least, it tells of the helplessness of ordinary people man amidst the vast movements of history.

In truth, the legend of the marble bride is about an architectural idea from France, which the son of the architect Lajos Ybl brought back with him for his father from a study trip. The house was built in 1912; the bride is the work of the sculpture Miklós Ligeti. The statue consists of only a bust, the balcony is not a real balcony, and the bride is not at all of marble. But that is the legend.
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    Even in our seemingly so rational and technological world, myths and legends have their place. Although most people no longer believe in evil wizards and good fairies, they do believe in the spider of the yucca palm or parallel civilizations hidden in the sewers. Our modern fairy tales are called Urban Legends. And they actually happened to a friend of a friend.More ...

    More Urban Legends from all around the World

    © Benjamin Klack via Pixelio.de

    Korea: The Toilet Ghost   deutsch한국어

    In Korea, ghosts are haunting lavatories, statues turn alive and ventilators develop homicidal tendencies – at least that’s what people say.

    Goethe.de/jadu: Does the Frog Take Notice?   deutschčesky

    Young Czech and German authors have set off in search of the weirdest, saddest and loveliest urban legends.

    Brussels: Penguins missing   deutschnederlandsfrancais

    Ladies are vanishing from the Brussels underground restrooms, the zoo is losing penguins: urban legends from Belgium.

    Italy: A Visit from the White Lady   deutschitaliano

    Italian big-city legends tell of razor blades and castles and a mysterious lady by the roadside.

    Warsaw: Vampires Are Out   deutschPolski

    In the Polish capital, tales are told of Black Roman, stinking mountains of ground meat, and a magical stone.

    Montréal: The Wrathful Volcano Child   deutschenglishfrançais

    A Canadian ethnologist explains the tale of the Volcano Child who, as legend has it, was incensed at the noise made at the city’s founding.