Nave Espacial de Varginha – Varginha, Brazil - Atlas Obscura

Nave Espacial de Varginha

Varginha, Brazil

This spacecraft-shaped water tower is only a part of the mysterious UFO mania in this Brazilian town. 


Something strange took place in Varginha, Brazil on January 20, 1996. It is hard to say where it began, but many point towards two sisters and their friend who said they saw a creature with a thin body, strange V-shaped feet, and large red eyes walking the streets of the city.

Rumors spread quickly throughout the city. Within a day, more UFOs were supposedly sighted, and other reports of alien sightings and even captured aliens came flooding into the local media. Two days later, a “creature” was reported to have been found dead in a roadside ditch. Three military trucks were reportedly sent to retrieve it.

The Brazilian media went wild for the story, though it was impossible to verify any part of it. The story even became international news, with the Wall Street Journal writing that “Varginha has the makings of a ‘cosmic Watergate.’” Despite all the press coverage, there was never any proof that anything out of the ordinary was afoot, beyond a self-instigated mass media frenzy. The Brazilian government denies the entire incident ever happened, which of course only makes UFO believers even more suspicious.

Since then Varginha has become a UFO pilgrimage spot—the South American equivalent of Roswell, New Mexico—and the city has been more than happy to capitalize on its sudden influx of ET tourism. Grey dolls can be bought throughout the city, and businesses have added alien decor.

The largest and most conspicuous of the UFO-related items in the city is its water tower. Constructed in 2001, it is 20 meters tall and built to resemble the craft which was said to have been seen by the city residents. To complete the out-of-this-world effect, the water tower glows purple at night.

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