Statue of Liberty in New York.

Statue of Liberty in New York. Photo by Linda Aksomitis. For more information about this iconic statue, see

Article by James MacLean.

The world’s most famous places gain a mystique over time.

Often, the reputation of these famous cities and sites is perpetuated by the media and through hearsay. Whether through movies, television shows or advertisements, certain ideas can proliferate that just aren’t true.

If you’re lucky enough to take a trip or catch a cheap flight to one of these world-famous destinations, you may benefit from some basic fact-finding about its prominent myths.

Perceptions are not reality, as these six myths about famous places prove.

1. It’s Always Raining in Seattle

The Emerald City in the Evergreen State is famed for its coffee — and for its rain. While the ample rain of the Seattle area keeps things green and helps it maintain the moniker “Emerald City,” it is far from the rainiest city in the United States.

Downtown Seattle from West Seattle

Downtown Seattle from West Seattle – By:Introvert (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps you are guessing that Portland or another northwest city takes the cake as the soggiest spot? Wrong again — the rainiest three cities in the U.S. are Mobile, Alabama, Pensacola, Florida, and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Seattle garners its reputation as rainy partially because of the incessant grey cloud cover that looms for most of its winter season.

It rains frequently in Seattle, but nowhere near as copiously as it does in the drenched Gulf Coast town of Mobile.

In actuality, Seattle typically ranks number 41 or 42 on a list of the rainiest cities in America.

2. Washington D.C. Has Skyscrapers

United States Capitol in Washington, DC.

U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Photo by Kevin McCoy at  [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

America’s capitol is featured widely in movies.

Some of Hollywood’s most popular political thrillers and alien invasion movies feature shots of Washington D.C., but in typical Hollywood fashion, involve some degree of falsity and exaggeration. Many of these movies show our nation’s capital as having skyscrapers.

Those who actually live in Washington D.C. will immediately notice that this is erroneous — there are simply no very tall buildings in D.C. In fact, the tallest building in D.C. is One Franklin Square, a 12-story high office building.

This is nothing compared to the screenshots of 30-story high skyscrapers featured in several Hollywood hits.

3. The Pyramids at Giza Are Remote and Deserted

Great Sphinx of Giza

Great Sphinx of Giza. Photo by Marek Kocjan (

A far cry from the common perception, the Pyramids at Giza are not isolated and surrounded in a quiet mystical haze. They are, in fact, perched at the very edge of Egypt’s modern mega-city, Cairo, and teeming with thousands of tourists and vendors on a daily basis.

The pyramids are not remote at all — at the most they are a twenty-minute shuttle ride from the nearest bus stations in Cairo. Nor are the pyramids deserted — they are surrounded by kiosks selling food and every kind of pyramid and Sphinx souvenir you can imagine.

The mystique of the pyramids is perpetuated by countless films which tend to use cinematography to make it appear as if the famous ancient monuments are looming majestically in the distant Sahara desert.

4. The Louvre in Paris Is Quiet as a Library

The Louvre, a gallery in the Louvre, Paris, France, between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900

The Louvre, a gallery in the Louvre, Paris, France, between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900. 

In films such as “The Da Vinci Code,” the famous Louvre museum in Paris is featured with its shiny expanse of marble floors so quiet you can hear a pin drop.

In such movies, the museum is pictured as a pristine, extremely quiet place with very few souls wandering its masterpiece-laden halls.

In fact, the Louvre is one of the top tourist destinations in Europe, and during its busy season it can be crammed with literally thousands of tourists eager to catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa and other treasures. The Louvre is downright loud and bustling, but chances are that if you’ve seen it in a movie, it’s been depicted as an ultra-quiet spot.

The modern entry to the museum is actually more like a mall entrance — many visitors are shocked to find it even contains an Apple store near its main rotunda.

5. Los Angeles Is the Movie Capitol of the World

Bollywood Dancers

Bollywood Dancers at Commonwealth Games in 2013. Photo by

While Hollywood is in Los Angeles and is synonymous with the entire history of film and celebrity culture, there is another city that actually produces more movies per year than Hollywood — far more.

India’s Bollywood film industry churns out movies nearly five times as fast as Hollywood does. Centered in Mumbai.

Tthe Bollywood film industry has been thriving since the mid-1970s.



6. San Francisco Is the World’s Hilliest City

It’s true — San Francisco is hilly. Its landscape is peppered with streets that seem impossibly steep. However, it is actually the world’s second hilliest city.

San Francisco by Aaron Logan, from

San Francisco by Aaron Logan, from

The first? Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A city’s “hilliness factor” is measured by how much of the city’s streets are at a steep angle, and Rio’s streets are ever-so-slightly hillier than the City by the Bay’s streets.

About the Author: James Maclean is a travel writer, bilingual in Spanish and English. He has written guidebooks for several cities in the US and South America. His travel writing has appeared on blogs and in several print publications.
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