7 real city names only true sci-fi and comic fans will appreciate
From Batman, Turkey, to Metropolis, Illinois, these cities and towns share a bit of pop culture fame with some of our favorite works of fiction.
Have you ever wanted to visit Metropolis? How about a stroll through Gotham or a selfie in Batman? Believe it or not, these places actually exist off the page, with some even embracing their modern affiliations with beloved works of fiction. Below are just a handful of the real towns and cities that every pop culture fan should include on their next road trip.
The city of Metropolis, Illinois, features a 15-foot painted bronze statue of Superman in front of the local courthouse. (Photo: WBEZ / Flickr)
Located along the Ohio River, Metropolis has a population of less than 7,000 and industries centered around agriculture, tourism and even uranium processing. The city is most famous, however, as the "Hometown of Superman," an official title passed by the Illinois State Legislature in 1972.
Every year on the second weekend of June, thousands of Superman fans from all around the world descend on Metropolis to celebrate the city's adopted son of Krypton. The four-day event boasts celebrity guests, discussion panels, and a variety of other DC Comics-themed activities. For those who can't make it, you can always stop by the local courthouse for a photo op with a 15-foot-tall painted bronze statue of the Man of Steel.
Located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, the Israeli city of Tiberias was established around 20 CE in honor of the Roman Emperor Tiberius. (Photo: Lilach Daniel / Flickr)
Those paying a visit to the idyllic coastal city of Tiberias in Israel may instinctively find themselves humming the iconic theme to "Star Trek." The city of 43,000, named in honor of the Roman Emperor Tiberius, also shares its namesake with James Tiberius Kirk; the captain of the starship USS Enterprise.
Despite its modern-day sci-fi affiliation, Tiberias for thousands of years has been better known for its hot springs and health-renewing mud baths. The region is also home to archaeological digs (including the remains of a 7,000-seat Roman theater), national parks and the Sea of Galilee – the lowest freshwater lake on Earth.
The city of Batman in Turkey lies near the confluence of the Batman River and the Tigris. (Photo: Adam Reeder / Flickr)
For hundreds of years, those living in Turkey have equated the name "Batman" not with the modern comic book superhero, but as the name of a major river. The nomenclature, likely inspired by the nearby Bati Raman mountain, has over the last century also extended to a province (Batman province), a dam (Batman dam), a university (Batman University) and a city (Batman city) of some 350,000 people.
In 2008, the relatively unknown city entered the international spotlight after its mayor threatened to sue British director Christopher Nolan for using the name "Batman" in his film trilogy without permission. "The royalty of the name 'Batman' belongs to us... There is only one Batman in the world, " the mayor told the Dogan news agency. "The American producers used the name of our city without informing us."
Naturally, the lawsuit never went forward, largely owing to the fact that the Batman character was created back in 1939 and has long since moved beyond the timeframe to challenge its trademark.
Eureka, California, with more than 45,000 people, is the largest coastal city between San Francisco and Portland. (Photo: Jan Kronsell / Creative Commons)
Fans of the Syfy Channel's long-running "Eureka" series looking to recreate a bit of the show's small town magic would do well to plan a trip to Eureka, California.
Containing hundreds of mid-to-late-19th-century Victorian homes, the entire city is designated a state historic landmark. In addition to a Mediterranean climate, visitors can also enjoy Eureka's open markets, dozens of local art galleries, and the Sequoia Park Zoo; the oldest in California.
Besides science fiction, Eureka is also the inspiration behind the fictional town of "Duckburg" featured heavily in the beloved Disney cartoon series "Ducktales."
"I won't bother to say precisely where I situated Duckburg and Calisota on America's west coast..." American comic writer Don Rosa said in the book "The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck." "But if you get out a good map and compare the coastline, you'll see that I stuck the old gold-prospector's adopted hometown directly across the bay from a very appropriately named actual city."
Castle Rock, Colorado
Castle Rock, Colorado, is named after the large, castle tower-shaped butte near the center of town. (Photo: Kent Kanouse / Flickr)
While the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine, features heavily in many of American author Stephen King's horror novels, the real version is actually much less frightening. Located within the Colorado foothills, Castle Rock is a town of just over 55,000 people so-named for the giant, castle tower-shaped butte near the center of town.
Unlike the creepy, supernatural events that take place in King's Castle Rock, the town in Colorado is regularly listed as one of the best places to live in the United States. In 2014, Money magazine ranked it No. 4 in its annual "Best" rankings, citing the region's happy populace, attractive natural area, low traffic and high community spirit.
Star City, Russia
Star City is the official home of the country's cosmonaut training center. (Photo: NASA / Flickr)
The hometown of the superhero Green Arrow, Star City outside of the world of comics refers to a Russian military township that today hosts the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. Since the dawn of spaceflight, the company town of some 6,000 people has helped train more than 120 crews for various Russian spacecraft and space station missions. In recent decades, the center has also been instrumental in the training of dozens of American, Japanese, and Chinese astronauts and even a few space tourists.
"Part of what I experienced was unique – possibly only to Star City," American former astronaut Richard Garriott told AirSpaceMag. "But the vibe you got was ‘Someone you know is in space.’ It’s part of everyday life. It’s continuous. It’s a very meaningful way to deal with this hazardous way of life."
Gotham, Nottinghamshire, U.K.
The village of Gotham in the U.K. has a population of less than 2,000 people. (Photo: Andy / Flickr)
If Batman ever wanted to retire to a more idyllic Gotham than the dark and depressing urban version realized in the DC Comics, the U.K. version in Nottinghamshire would certainly be worth plugging into the Batwing's GPS.
Interestingly, Gotham's history actually inspired the nickname given to New York City by American writer Washington Irving in 1807. Legend has it that in the 12th century, Gotham was chosen by England's King John to have a Royal Highway built through its center. Not thrilled with then having the task of maintaining this road, the villagers all pretended to be mad during an inspection of the route by King John's knights. Because madness at the time was believed to be contagious, the Royal Highway was rerouted around the town.
Inspired by the tale, Irving mocked the people of NYC in his "Salmagundi" periodical by comparing them to a sleepy village where all the people pretended to be crazy. The nickname has stuck ever since.
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE:
Related Topics: Lists