I love living in the city 99.5% of the time, but that last half-percent of the time, I’m usually dreaming of living on a remote cliffside hut where there’s zero chance I’ll ever hear my neighbors playing that stupid “Wagon Wheel” song on repeat. These four houses are so remote that you won’t hear anything except the howl of the wind, and maybe the occasional interjection of the imaginary elf your mind has invented because you haven’t seen or spoken to another human being in six months. Sounds like a good time to me!
Pridrangavati Lighthouse is built on top of a 120-foot tall rock pillar, out in the churning North Atlantic about six miles off the coast of Iceland. Today, lighthouse attendants are transported out by helicopter, but when it was originally built in 1939, everything had to be done by climbers. While the climbers were able to make most of their initial ascent with ropes and chains, when they reached the lip of the pillar’s summit, they discovered there no handholds. Two of the climbers formed a precarious human ladder, and the third climber climbed his two comrades to make the final summit. They did this for a lighthouse. I dunno, man, there’d have to be like eight or nine ships a night ramming into this pillar for me to even consider doing something like that. (Or here’s an idea: when you get close to Iceland, maybe just drop anchor when it gets dark.)
THE KATSKHI PILLAR HUT
The Katskhi Pillar is a 130-foot tall limestone formation in the nation of Georgia; on top is a ruined church, and a small hut occupied by a single monk. This monk climbs up and down the pillar via an iron ladder (it takes him 20 minutes to climb one way), but no one knows how the original inhabitants, who built the church in the 9th or 10th century, first made their way to the top of the pillar. According to archaeologists, who weren’t able to examine the ruins at the top of the pillar until 1944, those initial builders were stylites, members of an ancient Christian sect who avoided temptation by living on top of pillars. (Makes sense; there’s probably no wifi or phone signal up there.) The stylite record for livin’ on a pillar is held by St. Alypius, who in the sixth century supposedly lived on top of a pillar for 67 years. Imagine how filthy that pillar was at the end of six and a half decades.
The present-day monk – a former crane operator who spent time in prison for drug dealing – has been living on top of Katskhi for a comparatively short 20 years, but considering how much more temptation there is to resist in 2018, I vote that he gets the new record.
THE ELLIDAEY ISLAND HOUSE
This house, like the lighthouse above, is also off the coast of Iceland. Are Icelanders really antisocial or is there some macho competition thing happening here? Like Gunnar Eindhoven (totally made up name that’s probably a real Icelander) built the lighthouse-on-a-pillar, and then Tor Torvaldsson (ditto) was like, “well, if you’re going to put a lighthouse on top of a pillar, I’ll build a cottage in the center of the world’s remotest plateau!”
Home to what’s considered by some to be the most remote house in the world, Ellidaey Island was originally occupied by five families of puffin hunters (that’s not a gene pool, that’s a gene puddle) but had become abandoned by the middle of the 20th century. For years, this house was rumored to be Bjork’s, but those turned out to be just rumors. (Everyone knows Bjork’s house is made of cookies and shaped like a giant swan.) The house is used during the summer by a band of puffin hunters when they just want to get away from it all. And they do get away from literally all of it.
This wooden house, located on a remote godforsaken island in Antarctica, was built by a British Naval Survey in 1947 from wood scraps salvaged from previous expedition. (It’s basically the architectural equivalent of wearing a dead man’s shoes.) Not only is it literally thousands of miles from the nearest civilization, it’s smack in the middle of one of the most hostile environments on earth, where if you ducked outside for a smoke, you’d freeze to death before you even lit up. On the other hand, the house has lots of board games.
Now a historical site, appreciated by all the tourists that pass through Winter Island, Antarctica each year (approximate number: zero), the Wordie House isn’t, technically, all that isolated; a Ukrainian research base is a 20 minute hike away. Before you start complaining about hearing the faint notes of the Russian equivalent to “Wagon Wheel,” this Ukrainian base is famous for its homemade vodka. If you have to have neighbors, these are the best kind.