Mt Everest may be the highest peak on earth – and its summit is certainly accessible if you've got $75,000 and nerves of steel. But there are many locations around the globe that are equally awe-inspiring for the simple fact that people manage to make a home in these tremendously high places. From the highest city in the world to one of the most remote villages on earth to death-defying railways, this post brings you a snapshot of some of the most stunning high places.
Melag, or Melago, in South Tirol, Italy, is one of the highest and most remote villages in all of Europe. Melag is unusual; despite an altitude of over 6,300 feet and being located in the heart of the Alps, this tiny valley is very dry and sunny nearly year round. Artificial irrigation makes it possible to eek out agriculture. And that's another claim to fame for Melag: the highest artificially irrigated city in Europe. There's little tourism to this remote village, but visitors are not unheard of.
The Highest City in the World
The highest city in the world is Wenchuan, or Wenzhuan, on the Quinghai-Tibet road. It is nearly 17,000 feet above sea level. Wenchuan was devastated by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The surrounding area is home to endangered animals, including snow leopards and panda.
Highest Road on Earth
Also in Tibet, the stark Semo La road is over 20,000 feet high and takes you through hauntingly beautiful vistas and a treacherous mountain pass. Word has it that Marsimik La is the highest road on earth; but it all comes down to what one might consider an accessible road. Semo La can be used by vehicles. Authorities believe there may be other, higher roads, even more remote, but so far they have not been documented.
If a scooter through frigid mountain passes isn't to your liking, you could always cling to the cliffs by train. The Tanggula Mountain Pass, in the Tanggula Mountains of Tibet, journeys to a height of 16,640 feet. (You can stop for a rest at the highest railway station, fittingly also found in Tanggula.) This railway connects autonomous Tibet with the Republic of China. And wouldn't you know, just a little beyond is Wenchuan, the highest city. The famous Quinhai-Tibet highway also reaches its highest point in Tanggula.
The highest city in South America, Bolivia's Potosi will exhaust you after just a few blocks of walking. At nearly 14,000 feet above sea level, no wonder. Oddly, no one knows how the name Potosi developed; linguistically it is difficult to trace. It was colonized as a mining town, due to an abundance of silver in the region. You might not have heard of Potosi, but in the 1600s it was one of the largest, wealthiest cities on earth.