Bielefeld, an idyllic German city with beautiful architecture and magnificent church spires. The only problem? It doesn't exist.
At least that's according to a viral conspiracy theory that's been doing the rounds since the 90s.
Now, the city has set a €1 million reward for anyone who proves that it does not exist, setting on course a tantalizing paradox: how does one prove to a non-existing city that it does not exist?
A non-existent city
Bielefeld - with a population of 341,730 - has welcomed conspiracy theorists to prove that it doesn't exist. Win €1 million. Here are the steps you have to follow:
Prove the city doesn't exist. Go to the city you just proved doesn't exist and present to the town hall the proof of its non-existence.
The campaign is obviously extremely tongue in cheek and is aimed at poking a little fun - and perhaps raising a little awareness - at the way conspiracy theories are spreading online.
How did the conspiracies start?
As per the BBC, in 1994, a student called Achim Held jokingly posted the message "Bielefeld? There's no such thing" on the Usenet system - a forum where many conspiracy theories were spread on the early Internet.
Held's message became a running joke in Germany after it spread virally, thanks to the Internet boom.
Es ist soweit- der Anfang vom Ende der #Bielefeld-Verschwörung ist eingeläutet. 👍🏻Für alle, die an der Behauptung "Bielefeld gibt es nicht" festhalten, gibt es als Anreiz, uns den ultimativen Beweis zu liefern 1️⃣ #Million Euro!!! 🤩— Bielefeld JETZT (@BielefeldJETZT) August 21, 2019
➡️ https://t.co/MxBpVjwwkN#bielefeldmillion pic.twitter.com/vQwlqjcyMI
"The pearls of your wisdom must be incontrovertible," the organizers say. They also say they are "99.99% certain that we can refute any evidence."
The €1m prize money will be provided by Bielefeld Marketing's sponsors, in the improbable event that a winner is found. Knowing Facebook-commenting conspiracy theorists as we do, people will certainly try.