The World’s Luckiest Places
The world’s most auspicious sites and traditions are not limited to a few boozy festivals – or a particular calendar date. All year long, travelers court lady luck by throwing coins, rubbing statues and commemorating potholes from here to Hangzhou. JS contributor Emily Saladino takes us to the world’s luckiest landmarks
Paris, France: Victor Noir's Tomb
Pere Lachaise Cemetery may not seem like the most romantic place in Paris, but the 1804 burial ground is home to a longstanding fertility symbol. Victor Noir, a journalist killed in a political dispute with Napoleon’s nephew in 1870, is commemorated in a bronze statue created by sculptor Jules Dalou. The reclining likeness of the fallen writer has a rather, um, notable protrusion below the belt. As a result, generations of lovelorn Parisians have journeyed to Noir’s final resting place to touch said bulge, believing the act will improve their likelihood to conceive and, in some circumstances, guarantee a marriage proposal within the year. Hey, it’s a lot less embarrassing than auditioning for The Bachelor, n’est-ce pas?
Springfield, Illinois: Lincoln's Tomb
Death has not been easy for America’s 16th president. Multiple burglars have tried to steal his remains, and, in 2011, a series of copper thefts in the Springfield area included the pilfering of a three-foot sculpted sword atop his mausoleum. Time has also taken its toll on the bronze bust of Lincoln himself that adorns the 1874 granite tomb. Travelers believe that rubbing Lincoln’s nose brings good fortune, bestowing it with superstitious properties and a glinting gold sheen.
Hangzhou, China: Laughing Buddha
The reasons why people rub the bellies of Buddha statues are myriad, comprising feng shui directives and this Australian beer. Inferring good luck onto the act may date back as far as 328 AD, when China’s Eastern Jin Dynasty built the Lingyin Temple in the Wulin Mountains. Among the monastery’s miles of grottoes is Feilai Feng, a limestone sculpture marked by a beaming Buddha. For millennia, travelers have tickled his protruding midsection in hopes of acquiring some of his seemingly abundant good fortune.
Machu Picchu, Peru: Intihuatana Stone
Constructed by the Inca in the 15th century, on a peak nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, Machu Picchu is one of the world’s most inspiring places. Archeologists believe its Intihuatana Stone is an ancient horological device, linked to summer and winter solstices. Travelers who trek Machu Picchu now press their foreheads onto the stone, believing the act grants them shamanic vision and access to the spirit world.
San Diego, CA: The USA's Luckiest City
According to a 2011 study by Men’s Health, San Diego is America’s luckiest city. The magazine used six criteria to conduct its analysis, including: the most Powerball, Mega Millions and Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes winners; the most hole-in-ones on golf courses; the fewest people struck and/or killed by lightning; the least money lost at racetracks; and the fewest deaths from falling objects. Keep eyes skyward in Sioux Falls, SD, and Tampa, FL, though – those two came out as the least lucky on the list.
Florence, Italy: Il Porcellino
Like everything else in Florence, this Baroque statue is thousands of years old and linked to the Medici family. Sculpted in Rome circa 1684, the bronze boar was transported to Florence by la famiglia Medici soon thereafter, and served as a symbol of good luck since the mid-18th century. Today, visitors throw a coin into the pig’s (vaguely leering) open mouth, and rub his now-gleaming snout to ensure fortune and a return trip to the Tuscan capital.
Cork, Ireland: Blarney Stone
Perhaps the most apropos attraction on today’s list is this Irish site located below the battlements of Blarney Castle. For more than 200 years, pilgrims have climbed the castle stairs, lay on the ground and leaned backwards to touch their lips to an inconveniently located limestone. Installed in the castle in 1446, the block supposedly imbues puckerers with the “gift of gab.” Although the legend has never been scientifically proven, it is worth noting that Winston Churchill and Mick Jagger are among the highly vocal individuals who have laid one on the Blarney Stone.
Half of all paved roads in Sweden
On Swedish roadways, manhole covers are either labeled K, which is short for kalvatten and translates to “clean water”; or A, for avloppsvatten, or “sewage.” Superstitious Swedes imbue the labels with alternate meanings, claiming K also stands for karlek, or love, and A represents avburten, or heartbreak. Naturally, K covers are considered fortuitous, bringing romance to all who tread on them. Unlucky A manholes, however, should be avoided like a tunneled sewage system beneath a major city roadway.