Your house is your fortress, unless, of course, your fortress is sitting on a cliff, under a volcano, or in the middle of an overflowing river. What we call "dangerous" might not be for some people around the globe. Some are brave enough to enter these scary and dangerous places, but how brave enough are these people to step inside houses that are actually life-threatening. These houses will make you wish you were in a haunted house.
A Quiet Place to Meditate
A Quiet Place to Meditate
Xuankong Si is not suspended by steel and bolts, rather it’s held up by wooden beams fitted into man-made holes on the surface of the mountain. Ironically the monastery was specifically designated for monks to meditate in a quiet peaceful place. Fourteen hundred years later the monastery still stands and has become a hotspot for very brave people to visit.
Foot of a Volcano
To what extremes would people go to find the best soil on earth? The best soil in the world can be found at the base of volcanoes because once the volcanic ash cools down the soil becomes the optimal place to plant that apple tree you always wanted.
Millions of people live at bases of volcanos around the world. In 2022 we've seen live how the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands of Spain destroyed houses and city infrastructures. Scientists cannot accurately predict when or if the volcano will actually go nova, which should be enough of a reason to stay as far away as possible. Still, deadly clouds of ash, gases, and rock pieces tumble down the mountain. The land is rich, which is why people will keep living near volcanoes.
Overflowing River Home
Living next to an overflowing river can be scary. When the monsoon comes in India, your house is in danger of collapsing. In the last few years, major water bodies in India have increased in size, and rivers have been overflowing. It is not just the reservoirs and lakes.
According to Met Office, by 2050, at least twenty-five percent of India’s land surface will be affected by water-body changes and that may lead to serious problems. This could also mean more floods as well as more droughts which would affect crops and lives. We need to do something about this because it is important for the future.
Living On A Cliff
The sea is not a force you can hold back. We see it all around the world, and people who live on a cliff - they see it every day. The sea bites into the ground their house is built on and it does not seem to be stopping.
The cliff in the picture is in Yorkshire, England where several villages live on the edge. literally. Would you live there knowing the ground under your feet will soon collapse? That is scary.
If you want scary, living in the USA in the tornado alley is the place to be. Looking at the area it seems like a quiet and agricultural place to live in, but during tornado season it becomes a scary place to live in.
This image from Mayfield, Kentucky shows the aftermath of an EF4-grade tornado that moved through the area in 2021. Living in that area is scary.
Tea in a Tree
Kids these days seem to be always sitting inside playing their video games and watching Netflix on their computers. They need some fresh air! A great way to get the kids to enjoy the outdoors is by working together to build a treehouse. Well, this architect wanted his treehouse to stand out from the rest, so he built one designated just for a relaxing cup of tea.
Known as the Teahouse to visitors, its real name is Takasugi-an, which translates to “a teahouse built too high.” It requires the use of two ladders to get inside, with a small platform in between where shoes must be taken off. Rumor has it that the Teahouse is stocked with iced tea in case it gets too windy outside.
Fortress of Solitude
Superman had his fortress of solitude, and so does Maxime Qavtaradz. Qavtaradz is not just any ordinary monk; he is also a stylite. For over 1,500 hundred years a stylite was chosen by their fellow monks to live in solitude on mighty pillars. In fact in this particular residence, the remains of a six-hundred-year-old stylite were discovered in the house before Qavtaradz moved in.
Superman could fly to his fortress of solitude, but to get to this house of solitude the only method available is by using the 131-foot ladder. Once or twice a week, Qavtaradz climbs down the 131-foot ladder to counsel the monks in the monastery below.
The Fisherman and His Frog
Cabins are a great place to stay and to enjoy the great outdoors. Large rocks in the river are great for fishing, and for frogs to take a nap on. Cabins built on top of a rock in the middle of a river might not be the best idea. Amazingly, this tiny fragile cabin located in the Drina River in Serbia is still standing after forty years.
The owner didn’t seem to be concerned about the seasonal weather which causes the sea to rise because what other place in the world is better suited to house a fisherman and frog?
A Fairy Tale
Count Wilhelm of Württemberg was once in bed reading a captivating book that was set in the Middle Ages about kings and queens, chivalrous knights, maidens in distress, and colossal castles. The Count wanted a castle for himself, so he built one on top of the foundations of an older castle located far up on the edge of a mountain. The bridge leading up to the castle is just as precarious, as it hovers high above the valley that leads to the castle.
Count Wilhelm of Württemberg used his lofty castle for hunting game, and now it is being used to host weddings and other large events.
New York City is a bustling city that is very compact. Houses are generally lined up in tight blocks, with minuscule space between them, and backyards are nearly nonexistent. Still, the exciting big city makes up for the cramped space.
Castellfollit de la Roca, located in Catalonia, Spain is one of the most compact towns in the world. This 1,000-year-old town is squashed in between two rivers on a volcanic formation. No highways or intersections can be found in this city, only one narrow road runs through this compressed town. The only backyards in these houses are a 160-foot drop down to the river below.
Living On The Edge
If you are traveling soon to the sacred valley in Peru, you might want to get scared properly by sleeping at this hotel literally hanging on the side of the mountain. It's called Skylodge Adventure Suites and it's like a 5-star hotel - in a pod.
Apart of your sleeping/room pod, there is a main dining pod for meals and some chit-chat. To move between the pods you will always have to put the harness and helmet on. To reach the hotel you will also need to climb up the mountain with harnesses, ropes, and metal bridges. Scary!
Refuge in the Sky
Hopefully, John checked out his living quarters, and modes of transportation before deciding to sign up as a Greek monk back in the 14th century. Greek Monks had to protect themselves from being pillaged by foreign armies in times of war, so these monks sought refuge up in the sky. These remarkable monasteries are known as ‘Meteoras’ which means “suspended in air” and were built upon the sprawling mountains of Greece.
How the monks got up and down the mountain is nothing short of remarkable. With no elevators or escalators, the only way up or down is via a hanging basket or a rope ladder. This danger did not stop the many monks that flocked to these monasteries to seek a safe haven.
A House That Belongs on Mars
This house built on top of the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles looks like it belongs on Mars. It was called the Chemosphere by space engineer John Lautner, who built this iconic house in the 1960s. The house’s appearance is really symbolic to the feeling at the time when the NASA space age was underway.
The home’s octagonal shape and the height which it suspends from adds to the surreal feeling of living in the future. The Chemosphere has been featured in a handful of movies including the 2015 Disney fantasy film Tomorrowland, starring George Clooney
A New Type of Skyscraper
What does the Spanish town of Cuenca do when there is no more room available to build houses? They build skyscrapers of course! Well, sort of, they build ‘’Cascacielos’’ which means skyscrapers in English. Funny choice of words though because these houses aren’t built up high in the sky, rather the new houses were built off the side of the cliff.
Probably due to safety reasons, many residents don’t live in these hanging houses anymore. The one pictured above contains an art museum and a restaurant. If you are a Spanish art enthusiast make sure to check out this museum; it will leave you in awe.
Smoking Can Be Hazardous
Hopefully, the arms dealer Nikolai Petrovich Sutyagin didn’t smoke cigarettes in his 13-story wooden house. Built originally as a ‘normal’ three-story wooden house, Sutyagin kept adding more wooden stories because he thought the structure looked like a weird mushroom. Once completed the wealthy arms dealer designated five of the 13 stories to be used as a bathhouse.
The home located in Archangel, Russia, is called the Sutyagin House and was once the tallest wooden house ever built. Eventually, most of the building was scrapped as government officials probably weren’t interested in hiring more fireman. What’s left can still be visited; we just recommend to leave the pack of cigarettes at home.
Not the Ritz Carlton
The ‘safest’ colossal mountain to scale is the Matterhorn in Switzerland. Other mountains don’t really care about peoples lives in the event of avalanches, thunderstorms, or serious injury. The Matterhorn does! About 2.5 miles up, a hut is available for rock climbers to use in case of an emergency or to be used as a place to rest from the arduous climb.
It may look little but it can house up to ten people. It sure isn’t the Ritz Carlton but at least the hut has an emergency phone. Let's just hope that the thunderstorm or avalanche don't knock out the phone lines.
Let's Skip Dinner
The BBC published a documentary for their Human Planet series of the Korowai natives building their treehouse homes. It is actually true that many Korowai people live in treehouses, but in this BBC documentary, the whole thing was staged. Most of the treehouses built in Korowai are about thirty feet off the ground, but some ambitious people built their treehouses a hundred feet above the ground.
Despite the inconvenience of climbing up a hundred feet to get home, the dwellers are probably much safer way up there. Although many of the natives have given up the cannibal diet, some still continue to eat humans for dinner.
A Living Drawer
Drawers are traditionally used for socks and underwear, but these drawer-like structures are actually homes for people who wear socks and underwear to live in. The Dutch architectural firm MVRDV had to comply with city regulations, so they designed these peculiar buildings in a very cool way that fits a loophole in the regulations.
They look dangerous but are actually constructed in a manner that is very safe. The 'drawers' are fixed in a way that their beams are well positioned into the building’s mainframe. The people who live in these homes are probably having a grand time looking at passerby’s who are thinking; Get Out!
Huff and Puff
No house is more isolated in the world than the one on Elliðaey Island. Located off the coast of Ireland, there is literally no phone reception or medical service nearby in case of an emergency.
This remote island is believed to have been home to five families nearly three hundred years ago. Other than their wish for solitude, the inhabitants lived there to hunt puffin birds; which are birds that resemble penguins. Abandoned in the 1930s, the island remained bare until a single lodge was built to house enthusiastic puffin hunters.
Centuries ago, magnificent temples, teahouses, and shrines were built on the five peaks of Mount Hua. The peak pictured here is a small pagoda, called the Chess Pavilion. The only way up to the Chess Pavilion and down to safety is by climbing up and down the rocks of the enormous cliff.
Visitors luckily have a fighting chance of not falling to their death because metal chains and shallow footholds are hammered into the rock. Whoever named this pagoda the Chess Pavilion must have had a sense of humor because it is just as difficult to get up there as a five-year-old trying to beat a chess master.
Walk the Plank
‘’Walk the Plank’’ is synonymous to the order a pirate captain gives to the one sentenced to die. Death is certainly on the mind of trekkers that decide to walk the planks that lead up to another temple located on Mount Hua. Instead of taking the newly built cable car, visitors have the option to walk the planks that were originally placed their thousands of years ago. Despite being equipped with a harness, the fear is definitely palpable when crossing the narrow plains that are attached to the side of the mountain, and walking up the narrow stairs along the way.
The monks who live up there are very empathetic to those that risked their lives to reach their temple. During the many tea ceremonies held in the temple, they kindly offer a cup of tea to calm your nerves after the arduous journey.
A Little More to The Left
Ever heard of the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Well, these high-rise buildings are just like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, except that they are inhabited. Building codes in Brazil require foundations of high-rise buildings to be built deeply rooted in the earth. When these buildings were built, they took a bit of a shortcut by laying the foundation in shallow soft clay ground.
The occupants don’t seem to mind as the buildings are filled to capacity. Some of them have been straightened out, but because it costs a lot of money some were left as is. We hope that the residents living in these leaning buildings have refitted tables to accommodate their soup bowls.
Hell on Earth
Whether you are a believer of hell or not a believer in life after death, actual hell can be found on earth. Known as “The Gateway to Hell”, the village can be found in the Danakil Depression in the Ethiopian desert. Hot as hell, except in the months of January and February, dwellers are subject to the average daily temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, even reaching as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
The people that live in this below sea level village are not there for a suntan, but rather to mine the land for salt. Entrance to this hell on earth does not require a lifetime of sin, just a donkey and a very cool state of mind.
Skip the Shortcut
Frank Lloyd Wright was famous for the architectural ingenuity that he used to build the most magnificent homes ever built. Still, it is human nature to take shortcuts when offered the opportunity. This is exactly what happened during the construction of the Falling Water House in Pennsylvania. This spectacular house is perched on top of a waterfall that seamlessly blends into the forest that surrounds it.
Wright's engineers argued that the floors were not strong enough to carry the weight of the building. Despite their warnings, Wright proceeded with the original blueprint. Boy was that a mistake! Beams started to crack and the house became such a hazard that the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy had to drop $11 million to fix the shortcut taken.
According to legend, the ‘Second Buddha’ was taken to this peak on the back of a flying tiger. This is why this monastery is named Paro Taktsang or Tigers Nest. The monastery, nestled in the clouds, is located in the southern Chinese Bhutan Mountains. Perhaps the reason why so many famous monasteries on this list are perched on death-defying mountains is to emulate this one that the Second Buddha flew to.
The only way to get up to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery is by a terrifying two-hour hike. If only we could find a flying tiger…
Living on The Edge
It seems that cliff-hanging houses have become a wishful trend in modern society. The Australian company Modscape has found a way to provide safety to those who yearn to live on the edge. Built in a modular shape, these houses are suspended on the edge of the cliff and are reinforced by heavy steel beams that are embedded into the rock. The only way to access these houses is via the rooftop garage, which descends into this mindboggling house.
As fearsome as this house may seem, the breathtaking view is unparalleled and may just be worth purchasing one for yourself.
Just Enough Room
This house would be unremarkable in a suburban town if it wasn’t stuck in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. It is aptly named ‘Just Enough Room Island’ because nothing else other than the house could fit on the island.
Now a popular tourist attraction, the house was built by a wealthy family in the 1950s to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Instead of just moving to the country like most people, the family decided that they really need privacy. Before building the house, somebody told them that that the St. Lawrence River tends to flood. Hopefully, the inhabitants made sure to keep some life jackets in the house.
A House in Paradise
Paradise on earth can be found at the Maldives Islands. Many of the island’s houses are parked above the dazzling blue water and are connected by a walkway to the white sandy beaches. A hot spot for honeymooners, this piece of paradise is actually in peril due to climate change. If the climate continues on the path that it is going, then sea levels can rise high enough to engulf the entire island.
The risk is real enough for the president of the Maldives who has started building tall artificial islands that can resist the sea levels. The plan is that these man-made islands would become the new home of the Maladive residents if that fateful day ever comes.
Loving the Lava
Remember the houses built on the base of the ‘Fire Mountain’ volcano which is constantly at risk of flammable ash and falling stones? Well, we bet you would choose to live in one of those houses than this one. This isolated house stands outside the danger zone of the active Kilauea volcano. Scientists consider the Kilauea volcano to be the most active in the world.
The residence is called the Phoenix House and is the only house in the vicinity. Good news is that the house is very eco-friendly since it is powered by solar energy. The Phoenix House is actually available to rent on Airbnb, and the owners will even pick you up from the airport to take you to this very hot house.
Like a Shaken Can of Beer
The best prank a kid can pull is to shake up that can of beer your dad has sitting in the fridge, and peek around the corner to watch it explode in his face. The situation down at Lake Kivu located on the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo is the same basic concept, but a million times as deadly, and it can blow at any time.
The lake has tons of volatile gases laying in its depths, if it does explode there will be no warning beforehand, and clouds of deadly carbon dioxide gas will engulf the entire area. It certainly poses a major threat to the two million people that live on Lake Kivu’s shores. Scientists and engineers are doing all they can to reduce the pressure and de-gas the lake.