By Briana Seftel
Do you believe in luck? Even if you're a skeptic, you can't help but be amused by the rituals and traditions around the world that people follow for good fortune. Join in on the fun and rub, kiss or toss a coin at these luckiest places on earth. Who knows, it may just work...
Trevi Fountain • Rome, Italy
Tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain is as Italian as pizza and pasta! When in Rome, toss a coin into this beautiful Baroque fountain in the Trevi district to ensure your return to the Eternal City. As the legend goes, you should throw the coin using your right hand over your left shoulder. The tradition dates back to ancient Rome when travelers threw coins in water and prayed to the gods to help them return home safely. You can throw in a second coin if you’re looking for love, and a third for marriage!
Point Zero • Paris, France
Located just outside of the Notre Dame Cathedral, Point Zero is a small geographic marker that's regarded as the center of Paris. This easily missable marker is also a popular spot for local rituals. Some spin in a circle on one foot atop the marker to fall in love, while others kiss a loved one above the plate to ensure an eternal devotion. You might also see a few coins on scattered on top - make a wish and see if it comes true!
Blarney Castle • Blarney, Ireland
One of the most famous castles in Ireland, Blarney Castle was built nearly 600 years ago by Cormac MacCarthy, one of Ireland's greatest chieftains. While the sprawling castle grounds are a joy to explore, the real draw here is the infamous Blarney Stone. For over 200 years, people have flocked to County Cork to kiss the Blarney Stone, said to grant the gift of eloquence. While the origins of the Blarney Stone are unclear, kissing the stone is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Ireland. Climb the steps to the top of the tower and pucker up!
Statue of St. John of Nepomuk • Prague, Czech Republic
Crossing the Vltava river in Prague, Charles Bridge is one of the city's most iconic sights - but did you know it's home to a famous legend? The bridge is decorated by some 30 statues including the statue of St. John of Nepomuk. According to the legend on the base of the statue, he was thrown off the bridge in 1393 by King Wenceslas IV for keeping the queen’s confessions a secret (he was her priest). Touching the statue is said to bring luck and a return to Prague. A few steps from the actual statue is a small golden cross marking the spot where the saint’s body was thrown into the Vltava river. If you touch the cross and make a wish, it will come true within a year and one day!
Hagia Sophia Wishing Column • Istanbul, Turkey
One of Istanbul's most beautiful and sacred structures, the Hagia Sophia is full of fascinating history. Originally built nearly 1,500 years ago as a Christian basilica, it was converted into a mosque by the Ottoman Empire in the 1400s. Today, it is a public museum attracting millions of visitors per year for its stunning golden mosaics, minarets and central dome. One of the most famous features of the Hagia Sophia is the Wishing (Weeping) Column. According to one tale, Emperor Justinian was wandering through the building with a severe headache and leaned his head against the column, only to later realize his headache disappeared. Legend says if you stick your thumb in the hole of the column and it emerges moist, your wish will be granted.
The Intihuatana Stone • Machu Picchu, Peru
A bucket list destination, Machu Picchu is unlike any other place on earth. Getting to the Lost City of the Incas is an adventure in of itself, but the journey is well worth it. One landmark you shouldn't miss is the Intihuatana Stone, a ritual stone used by the Incas. Pointed directly at the sun, some believe the stone was used to tether the sun along its annual path in the sky. While the site was roped off some years ago, just being in the presence of the stone is said to give off positive energy. Make your first stop here to soak in the good vibes, then continue your exploration of this incredible ancient site.
Statue of Juliet • Verona, Italy
Verona is known as being the setting for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, so it comes as no surprise that the Italian city has several landmarks commemorating the iconic play. One of the most infamous landmarks is the bronze statue of Juliet located outside Juliet's house (Casa di Giulietta). A subject of controversy for years, tourists rub her left breast for good luck. Too obscene for your taste? Stick up a love note on the wall and take a photo under the famous balcony.
Laughing Buddha • Hangzhou, China
Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou is one of the oldest and most important ancient Buddhist temples in China. A spiritual place for many, the temple is home to a handful of legends including that of the Laughing Buddha. Located in the center of the Hall of the Heavenly King, the statue of Maitreya (a.k.a the Laughing Buddha) is said to be the origin of the tradition of rubbing the Buddha's belly for good luck. Go ahead and give his belly a good 'ole pat!
Il Porcellino • Florence, Italy
If you go to Florence, ask for the pig! On the south side of the Mercato Nuovo is a bronze fountain of a wild boar affectionately known as Il Porcellino ("the piglet"). Originally sculpted in 1634 by master sculptor Pietro Tacca, the statue is believed to be a representation of the mythical Calydonian Boar. Placing a coin in his mouth is said to grant good fortune, while rubbing his shiny golden snout is said to ensure your trip back to Florence! The tradition has become so popular that there are several replica statues in dozens of countries around the world.
Schöner Brunnen • Nuremberg, Germany
If you find yourself in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg, it's hard to miss the spectacular 14th-century Schöner Brunnen in the main market square. Literally translating to "Beautiful Fountain," it is composed of four rows of 40 stone figures representing the worldview of the Holy Roman Empire. Surrounding the fountain is a wrought iron gate embedded with two brass rings on opposite sides. By turning the rings, you will be blessed with good luck and your wish will come true. Who needs German fairy tales anyway?