There are plenty of reasons to travel the world. Exotic foods, beautiful scenery, new cultures and outdoor activities rank high. Some people, however travel for a different reason – exploring supposedly haunted places all around the world. Known as dark tourism or ghost hunting, it can certainly bring a new thrill to your next trip!
Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, there are some locations that are downright creepy. Whether it’s a historical prison or hospital, or a strange island populated only by dolls, all of the destinations on this list have a chilling story behind them. Read on to learn the background of 13 haunted places around the world.
The Sultan’s Palace in NOLA’s French Quarter
New Orleans in general and the French Quarter in particular have long topped the list of haunted places, and ghost stories abound. One of the creepiest revolves around an 1836 home on the corner of Dauphine Street and Orleans Avenue.
The story behind this house is much more chilling than the ongoing ghost sightings reported today. A Turkish man claiming to be a sultan purchased mansion and moved in with his harem of wives and litter of children.
Locals never really trusted the man’s claims of being a sultan, nor did they trust his motives. The first thing he did on arrival was add locks to the doors and heavy drapes to the windows, and he would throw wild parties with women, incense, opium, and all manner of noise.
They were right to be suspicious. One day, a neighbor noticed something especially strange. There was blood dripping down the walls and front steps of the house. He immediately called the police, who found a truly gruesome scene.
The whole interior was covered in blood and dismembered corpses. Arms, legs, and heads were strewn around, and the homeowner’s own hand was protruding from the ground in the courtyard. They discovered he had been buried alive.
Chichen Itza, Haunted Wonder of the World
One of the Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza is definitely worth a visit if you are in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. That is, unless you’re afraid of ghosts.
When you think of haunted places, it’s probably a Victorian-era house that comes to mind. Some ghosts, however, have been wandering the Earth for much longer than those houses have stood.
Built by the Mayans somewhere between the 9th and 12th century, Chichen Itza is no stranger to death. In fact, one of its purposes was as a site of mass sacrifices. Tourists claim to see shadows walking the halls and hearing chants echoing off the stone walls.
Mexico’s Creepy ‘Island of the Dolls’
Some things are just universally creepy. If we had to short list common phobias, dolls are right up there with clowns – and for much the same reason – they are both the subjects of many a horror film. Plus, there’s that static, expressionless face that makes you wonder what is going on behind those eyes. Those soulless, staring eyes.
Maybe one doll is a bit unsettling, but what about thousands of dolls? And they aren’t in a normal place, like a child’s bedroom or a grandma’s attic. They are strung up on trees covering a whole island.
In Xochimilco, Mexico, just south of Mexico City, you’ll find such an island. You can visit, but that was never the intention behind this strange site. The legend goes that the island’s caretaker, Julian Santana Barrera, found a girl drowning in one of the canals near the island. He tried to save her, but was unable to, and was racked by guilt. Nearby, he found a doll that most likely belonged to the girl and hung it in a tree as a memorial.
Alone on the island, Julian’s imagination started to run wild. Either that, or it is haunted.
He began to hear whispers and footsteps, and believed the doll to have moved. The spirit of the girl, he believed, was possessing the doll. He began hanging more dolls to appease her, and the more he hung, the more they haunted. He would hear screams, and felt the dolls’ eyes following him. After 50 years, Julian’s body was found dead, drowned in the same spot as the girl.
A Prison in the City of Brotherly Love
Philadelphia translates to City of Brotherly Love, so you would think they would understand the importance of camaraderie. Perhaps this explains why they invented the idea solitary confinement as the perfect punishment. The practice was first introduced at Eastern State Penitentiary.
This 1829 prison ranks as one of the most haunted places because of the tortured souls who died here. Inmates were isolated for so long that they suffered psychological effects and the mortality rate was high.
Today, some of these prisoners have still not escaped. There are reports of clanging chains, slamming doors, manic laughter and heavy footsteps throughout the building.
The Tower of London
The Tower of London has seen its share of executions in its 900 years of history, making one of the most haunted places in the UK. Some famous characters from English history died here and tourists claim to see them within its walls.
One of the first reported ghosts there actually died elsewhere. Thomas Becket was killed in Canterbury, where he was Archbishop, on King Henry’s order. Henry’s grandson Henry III thought Becket was haunting him, so he built a chapel in the Tower in his honor.
On of Queen Elizabeth’s potential heirs, Lady Arbella Stuart was imprisoned and died in the Tower of London. Her crime? A secret marriage and attempt to flee England with her husband. Cause of death? Refusing to eat, perhaps out of grief.
Anne Boleyn was famously beheaded on the Tower Green by her own husband. Numerous people claim to see a headless woman roaming the tower grounds.
The Monte Cristo Homestead of Australia
This attractive mansion in June, New South Wales is the most famous of Australia’s haunted places. It is, however, still inhabited by a family who is very much alive.
The Ryan family lives in the Monte Cristo Homestead, and they experience all kinds of paranormal events. The lights go on and off of their own accord, shadows appear where no human stands, and cold spots sweep through the home.
There is plenty of chilling history in this mansion, which was built in 1885. One young boy was dropped to his death down a staircase, and another burned to death in a stable fire. A maid committed suicide and a servant’s mentally unstable servant was tied up outside for more than ten years.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Kentucky, US
The Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Southern Jefferson County, Kentucky is an imposing building. It’s severe outer appearance is not what is creepy about it though, but rather, what went on inside.
Initially, it was constructed as a two-story hospital for tuberculosis patients. The disease became so widespread in the area that they had to expand it to a five-story sick ward, where most patients admitted never left.
It is thought to be one of the most haunted places in the US because as many as 63,000 people died of “the white death” within its walls. TB earned this unfortunate nickname because as people coughed up blood, they would turn ghostly white.
That’s not the only ghostly thing either. With so many deaths at Waverly Hills, many of the spirits supposedly wander the halls muttering. Visitors claim to feel strange cold spots and see shadows. Room 502 was home of one of the more dramatic deaths – a young pregnant woman hung herself with a wire, supposedly leaving her ghost behind.
Sweden’s Haunted Vicarage
This unassuming building, called Borgvattnet, was constructed in 1876 as a priest’s home. Forty years later, strange things started to appear. On several separate occasions, visitors reported seeing old ladies in the vicarage.
Most commonly, an old woman dressed in gray sits in a rocking chair here. Other times, three women appear together. Still others have spotted shadows on the wall or noticed the rocking chair moving on its own.
Legend has it that the women are former maids who were mistreated in the home, or else mothers whose babies were buried in the adjoining cemetery.
Japan’s ‘Suicide Forest’
The widely publicized Aokigahara forest at the foot of Mount Fuji goes by many names, including the Sea of Trees, and the “Suicide Forest.”
It earned this dubious honor because it is the site of hundreds of suicides – almost 100 were confirmed in a single year. Perhaps it began with people who were hopelessly lost – the volcanic soil is rich in magnetic iron that can disable a compass. Over time, however, Aokigahara became a destination to take ‘a final walk.’
Spiritualists believe that if a body is not discovered, the soul will be trapped in the forest and absorbed into the trees. Visitors report hearing screams and feeling chills, and more than a few have discovered bodies.
If you visit this site, be respectful and don’t make a YouTube video.
The Queen Mary, a Haunted Boatel
Moored permanently along the coast of Long Beach, California, The Queen Mary was an ocean liner and is now used as a hotel. Here, paranormal activity is normal activity, with more than 150 spirits onboard. Most hotel guests visit for this very reason.
Unlike many of the other spooky spots on this list, the ghosts haunting The Queen Mary don’t seem too sinister. Specters appear in the staterooms wearing their best party attire, in the storage rooms and boiler room wearing crew uniforms, and famously, in the pool wearing classic 1930s swimwear. Guests also report phones ringing, water running, and babies crying.
Bhangarh Fort in India
This 400 year old fort is considered one of the most haunted places in the entire world. King Sawai Madho Singh built Bhangarh Fort about 400 years ago, and the grand structure once housed 10,000 residents!
Until, that is, they all met their demise at the hands of an invading army. The legend is that a sorcerer fell in love with the castles’ princess and created a love potion to woo her. She caught on, however, and dumped the substance onto a rock. The sorcerer was so angry he cursed the place, saying no soul would ever live in peace there.
At night, the spirits of Bhangarh run amok and attack anyone inside the fort. Locals also report that any time they erect a roof nearby, it will collapse. The Archaeological Survey of India actually forbids visitors to the grounds at night!
West Virginia’s Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was built in 1864 in Weston, West Virginia. Similar to Waverly Hills, this hospital had humble beginnings as a place to treat 250 patients at a time. Over the years, demand rose and they grew beyond capacity, holding nearly ten times as many people.
The patients admitted here were, in typical 19th century jargon, “mental defectives,” which included alcoholics, addicts and anyone who didn’t fit in well with society. A perfect group to cram into tight quarters with poor sanitation and deteriorating infrastructure. Many died within the asylum’s walls, and supposedly haunt it to this day.
They weren’t the first to die on this spot though. Prior to becoming an asylum and hospital, this site was a Civil War outpost, and some of the spirits haunting the location are believed to be confederate soldiers.
Akershus Fortress in Norway
The Akershus Fortress was built as a stronghold for the royals of Oslo in the 18th century. The fortress was another prison and, naturally, a number of prisoners died here, making it one of Norway’s haunted places.
The Akershus Fortress was already considered haunted when the Nazis moved in during Germany’s occupation in the 1940s. They
While it’s said that the prisoners’ souls began to haunt the halls of the fortress, they soon had company – the Nazis. Several members of a Norwegian resistance movement, the Pelle Group met their demise.
The most famous and feared being to haunt the grounds, however, is neither prisoner nor Nazi resistor, but a guard dog. “Malcanisen,” which means Evil Dog or Vicious Dog, guarded the gates in his lifetime and continues to do so in death.
Akershus is now a museum, visit at your own risk!