In 2012, the tiny hamlet of Bugarach, nestled in Southern France, witnessed a surge of indignation among its 194 inhabitants. The reason: an influx of apocalypse believers. These individuals convinced that Bugarach was the sole sanctuary for surviving the end of days, swarmed the peaceful locality.
The Onslaught of Doomsday Devotees
Clad in white, they became a regular sight in the picturesque village.
Drawn by New Age theories, many believed that a nearby rock formation, Mount Bugarach, concealed an alien base. Jean-Pierre Delord, the mayor of Bugarach, voiced his exasperation to the local press:
“These darn prophets from around the globe have turned our mountain into some sort of UFO garage.” He added that while it might seem amusing to some, the fanatics took their beliefs very seriously and flocked to Bugarach seeking refuge.
The internet played a pivotal role in spreading apocalyptic predictions for the following year, many rooted in interpretations of the ancient Mayan calendar which suggested that December 21, 2012, would mark the end of this era.
Bugarach: A Magnet for Apocalypse Believers
Bugarach, shrouded in legends for centuries, became a hotspot for apocalypse believers.
Rumors circulated that its mountain harbored gateways to other worlds and that extraterrestrials would choose this spot for refuge on Judgment Day. Kean, a 42-year-old Dutchman, traveled there, convinced of the imminent arrival of aliens.
Dressed in a white robe, symbolizing the purity of his mission, he planned to build a bread oven in the settlement and offered discounts on stays for those who assisted. The story of Bugarach is deeply intertwined with mysteries and myths.
Located at the foot of the Pyrenees in a region that was home to the enigmatic heretical Cathar sect in the 13th century, the place has inspired countless legends.
The famed hill, rising 1,230 meters above sea level, is known as the “upside-down mountain” due to the unusual arrangement of its rock layers.
Moreover, the abundance of caves and limestone has fueled stories about subterranean caverns and tunnel networks, possibly constructed during wartime or even by the Cathars, leading to the belief that the site might contain a magical underground refuge or an escape route for Armageddon.
The Impact of Natural Disasters on Apocalyptic Beliefs
Catastrophic events like the earthquake in Japan and the devastating hurricanes in the United States have exacerbated feelings of impending doom.
This climate of fear led to a significant rise in the number of people seeking refuge in Bugarach. According to the mayor, the village received over 20,000 visitors since the beginning of the year, more than double compared to the previous year.
These figures reflected not only a growing interest in apocalyptic prophecies but also a notable shift in public perception regarding the possibility of an imminent cataclysm. In response to this unusual surge of visitors, French authorities expressed concern.
Miviludes, the French body overseeing cult activities, announced that it would place Bugarach under special surveillance. There was fear that the town could become a center for mass suicides, similar to the tragic events that occurred in France, Switzerland, and Canada between 1994 and 1997.
The safety and well-being of Bugarach’s residents and visitors were a priority for the authorities, to prevent any incidents that might arise from the apocalyptic beliefs surrounding the place.
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