08/23/2019 21:02 EDT

Bielefeld, Germany Officials Offer Nearly $1.5M To Anyone Who Can Prove City Doesn't Exist

It's long been the centre of a conspiracy theory.

BERLIN — An 800-year-old German city that’s been the subject of a long-running online light-hearted conspiracy theory claiming it doesn’t really exist is offering big bucks to whoever proves that’s true.

Officials in Bielefeld said Wednesday they’ll give 1 million euros (nearly $1.5 million) to the person who delivers solid proof of its non-existence.

They said there are “no limits to creativity” for entrants, but only incontrovertible evidence will qualify for the prize.

A castle is pictured in Bielefeld, Germany in 2017.

The idea that Bielefeld — a city with a population of more than 300,000 — doesn’t exist was first floated by computer expert Achim Held, who posted the satirical claim on the Internet in 1994 in an effort to poke fun at online conspiracy theories.

The theory asks three questions:

  1. Do you know anybody from Bielefeld?
  2. Have you ever been to Bielefeld?
  3. Do you know anybody who has ever been to Bielefeld?

Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel once jokingly cast doubt on the existence of Bielefeld, which is allegedly located about 330 kilometres (205 miles) west of Berlin.

Proof that Bielefeld isn’t real can be submitted until Sept. 4.

With a file from Sima Shakeri