The most important component of every city, town or a village, streets are the blood vessels of modern civilization, playing a major role in shaping the way we live and interact with other people. Hosting myriads of activities, streets are often spacious enough to accommodate a wide range of functions, including roads, pavements and businesses. Nevertheless, in some instances streets are merely slender passages, which in extreme cases can barely fit one person as exemplified in the next five anomalies, the world’s smallest streets.
Nestled at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria is the capital of British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province. Following the 19th century gold rush, many Chinese immigrants relocated to the city, establishing the country’s oldest Chinatown.
Few decades after its establishment, the Chinese enclave started attracting all sorts of illegal and dubious activities, including gambling and opium trade. Due to their illicit nature, these shady businesses concentrated in a narrow alley that offered a great deal of confidentiality.
Named after a popular Chinese gambling game, the Fan Tan Alley is officially known as the narrowest street in Canada, measuring only 90 centimeters at its narrowest point.
While the 73-meter-long alley began its way as a major hub for crime, as a result of social changes and police raids in the 1950’s, it quickly transformed into a unique tourist attraction full of fashionable cafés and boutique shops.
photography by: Doug Symington/ Flickr
The southern English city of Exeter is home to a remarkably marvelous Gothic Style cathedral, a vibrant historic quayside and a 14th century miniscule alley proclaimed by some as the narrowest street in the world. Ranging between 64 centimeters at its narrowest point to slightly more than a meter at its widest part, Parliament Street is officially the narrowest street in the UK.
Besides its obvious role as a passage linking Waterbeer and High streets, the 50-meter-long alley originally served also as a medieval dumping site for people emptying their portable toilets, so much so that eventually the street’s dwellers were asked to seal some of the doors as a measure to combat the unpleasant odors.
Formerly known as Small Lane, the street was renamed somewhere between the 17th to 19th centuries, and while the exact reason is still highly debated, it’s speculated that widespread riots following the repeal of an anti-corruption bill that was previously approved by the British lower house greatly contributed to the name change.
Across its history, the street’s residents petitioned several times for its widening, yet none of those attempts ever came into fruition. The only time where changes were made was during the 1970’s when a nearby shopping center was open, resulting in the broadening of the street’s opening towards Waterbeer Street as well as the replacement of some of its original pave-stones.
photography by: Garry Knight and Robert Cutts/ Flickr
Perching on a 50-meter-tall cliff at the eastern side of the island of Krk, Vrbnik is a picturesque medieval village bestowed with laid back vibes and iconic old buildings. While this tiny community is probably best known for its exceptional Žlahtina white wine, it’s also home to another contender for the world’s narrowest street title, Ulica Klančić.
With its width fluctuates between 40 and 50 centimeters, not every person can fit inside, let alone two people who try to cross each other. According to a local legend, the street was purposely built that way to accommodate the malčići, tiny mythical creatures who use to roam across the village, engaging in all sorts of troubles and pranks.
photography by: Allie_Caulfield/ Flickr
Often serving as an affordable alternative to the glamorous town of Saint Tropez, the French commune of Gassin is located atop a rocky bluff, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Standing out among its numerous small streets and alleys is L’Androuno, the narrowest street in France, as well as the narrowest one worldwide, depending who you ask.
Its minimum width reaches merely 29 centimeters, making it challenging to cross even for children. Despite the street’s Latin name, L’Androuno derives from the Greek word for men, ἀνδρών, implying that it possibly served in the past as a men-only passage, albeit the local Provencal term refers to a small void between buildings.
Interestingly, the street’s tiny proportions were originally designated as a defensive measure to halt large scale attacks, as heavy machinery, horses and armored knights couldn’t penetrate the slender gap, while at the same time providing a drainage solution during heavy rainfall.
photography by: Office de tourisme de Gassin/ Wikimedia Commons
Located 32 kilometers south of Stuttgart, the city of Reutlingen doesn’t attract much attention as it’s better known for its ample textile industry rather than any particular tourist attractions. Nevertheless, according to the Guinness World Records, the city is home to the world’s narrowest street, Spreuerhofstraße.
Tucked away in a building block that was constructed in the 18th century following a large-scale fire that consumed much of the city, the street’s minimum width stands at about 31 centimeters whereas its widest part peaks at 50 centimeters.
Adorned with two plaques at both of its entrances indicating its lofty title, the “street” is practically just a gap between two buildings, sophisticatedly branded as the narrowest street in the world. Despite its uninspiring appearance coupled with the overrated hype, it’s still worth checking out if you’re happen to be around.
photography by: Hedwig Storch and qwesy qwesy/ Wikimedia Commons