From drunken nights out with a llama to testicle-eating fishes, it’s a mixed bag of stories you’ve been sharing on social media in 2013.

Among the top twenty Independent articles you’ve been tweeting and posting on Facebook this year, there are serious reports, ferocious comment pieces, astounding research and a fair few articles that pay tribute to the adage ‘the truth is stranger than fiction.’

Pilgrims' progress

Channel 4 has gained rare access to the haj in Mecca. Bader Ben Hirsi is one of those filming the event

Obituary: Michel Pinseau

MICHEL PINSEAU graduated from the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts as an architect in 1956 and began to take part in the building frenzy that marked the beginning of the so-called "30 glorious years", the years of prosperity. In Paris there was an instant need for new offices and, in the Paris region, a great demand for housing.

The legend of the holy tomato

Look very closely at this tomato. Does it contain just seeds and flesh - or can you make out the word - the Arabic symbol for Allah? If so, you are just one of the witnesses to the miracle of Bradford.

Faith & Reason: Elvis, Dawkins, the Pope and the lesser of evils

Want to know the difference between religion and mere supersition? Then first consider the distinctions between atheism and science and decide which could best do business with organised crime

Fat chance of turning this tide of old cobblers

Could Lord Bragg not use a more sensitive phrase, like `a naturally heavy-boned lot of good'?

Faith & Reason: The veil which shrouds Mecca starts to lift

For centuries Islam's holiest city has refused access to all non- Muslims. But the appetites of a global media may cause profound change

Historical Notes: A proud people who built aqueducts by eye

BURSTING OUT of Anatolia in the 14th century, the Ottoman Turks conquered the whole Balkan peninsula, from the Adriatic to the Black Sea. By the time Mehmed the Conqueror took Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453, most of Europe's Orthodox population was under Ottoman rule. In 1517 the empire swept up the heartlands of Islam - Syria, Arabia, and Egypt, along with the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina. In Europe, Belgrade held out until 1524, but it was captured by Suleiman the Magnificent, whose armies overran Hungary and laid siege to Vienna.

Travel: Passport - Paco Pena: `I have never found anywhere more beautiful than Rome ...'

I love London desperately. I have a home there (as well as one in my Spanish home-town of Cordoba), and it is where I began my solo effort in life. It is where I took my first steps abroad and it marked the beginning of my career as an international flamenco guitarist.

Travel: Saudi - Wine, women and song? No chance

Jeremy Atiyah, who has travelled widely in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, assesses the prospects for the first British package holiday- makers

The West is blind to its own hypocrisy: Faith & Reason

For Muslims the festival of Eid should be a joyous celebration at the end of a month of fasting. But this year it is wrapped in a cloth of suffering

Wednesday Book: Cursed with good fortune


Obituary: Professor Syed Ali Ashraf

THE MUSLIMS most prominent in the British media are known because of the noise they make and the heat they generate. They fit into preconceived ideas of Muslim fanatics and extremists. It is natural therefore that Syed Ali Ashraf is virtually unknown in the media. This is a pity, as Ashraf was one of the half-dozen most important Muslim scholars of the last few decades.

An uneasy crown passes to prince

THE SULTAN of Brunei yesterday invested his eldest son as his successor in a glittering ceremony that was intended to underline the stability of the oil-rich but troubled monarchy.
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
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Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference