Some of these places – haunted vaults, creepy crime scenes, and suicidal forests – are enough to make even the most fearless travelers reconsider their trip for “safer” destinations. Put them together and you’ve got yourself one heck of a fright-fest.
So grab your flashlight and running shoes and get ready because here are five of the most haunted and bloodcurdling locations in the world. Are you brave enough to tour one?
1. The Underground Vaults in Edinburgh, Scotland
Discovered less than 30 years ago beneath the bustling streets of Scotland’s capital city, the Edinburgh Vaults are consistently named one of the most haunted places in the world– and for good reason.
For more than 200 years the abandoned vaults remained untouched, trapping the ghostly apparitions underground and leaving them to entertain themselves with memories of Edinburgh’s forgotten past. In their busier days, the vaults were used as cellars, workshops and residences by local business owners who needed easy access to Edinburgh’s South Bridge, however, excessive water and waste management issues forced the wealthy residents to abandon the area.
The vaults then became a refuge for Edinburgh’s homeless and a breeding ground for the plague. It’s rumored the murderous body-snatchers Burke and Hare stored corpses in the vaults before handing them over to Infirmary Street teaching hospital. Tours cost around £12.00 per person.
2. The LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Vampires, Voodoo queens, and spell-casting witches are enough to make any thrill-seeker head to the Big Easy. Add in a few Civil War ghosts and a Turkish sultan and it’s easy to see why New Orleans claims the title of “Most Haunted City in America.”
One of the most famous haunted houses in the city sits at 1140 Royal Street in the French Quarter. The mansion was owned in the 1800s by Madame LaLaurie and her physician husband who purchased slaves and conducted unimaginably cruel and inhumane “medical” experiments on them.
These gruesome acts continued for many years until a fire led investigators to the home. Inside the attic, they found people chained to the walls, many with exposed internal organs. The LaLauries fled New Orleans and although their home has been sold several times, occupants still report seeing ghosts of murdered slaves roaming the attic. Haunted New Orleans tours cost around $20.00 per person.
3. Aokigahara Forest in Japan
Aokigahara Forest is a thick, dark woodland filled with Japanese moss and volcanic rock bordering Mount Fuji in Japan. But it’s better known throughout much of The Land of the Rising Sun as the Suicide Forest.
With a history of nearing 80 suicide victims found here yearly, this sea of trees lives up to its name. It’s not uncommon for hikers to stumble upon the bodies, propped against a tree with a gun or razor blade in their hand. Some visitors find corpses swinging from a tree limb, and other times all that’s found is a small mound of possessions, a few torn photos or a letter.
Legends claim massive underground iron deposits interfere with compasses, catching innocent hikers in the forests’ grasp, while spiritualists claim the trees have absorbed the malicious energy that has accumulated from centuries of unsettled souls who ended their lives too soon. Some very convincing evidence of paranormal activity has been documented in these woods. Visitors can enter Aokigahara Forest at their own risk, no organized tour required.
4. Whitechapel in London, England
Whitechapel and Spitalfields were the crime scene for Jack the Ripper, one of the most famous and notoriously elusive serial killers in the world.
In a bloody twelve-week span that ran from August 31 to November 9, 1888, 11 women were murdered – only five were officially credited to Jack the Ripper, but all of the homicides remain unsolved.
For starting at £10.00 curious travelers can follow a guide through the cobblestone streets of London’s East End, to the pubs and haunts of London’s brutal murderer.
While Jack the Ripper’s ghost is the most notorious, London’s East End is also said to be haunted by the spirits of his victims, by a group of Roman soldiers. and an evil sea captain.
5. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York, USA
Ghosts and goblins … haunted bridges … a Headless Horseman, these tales from a partLegend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving’s fact-based tale that put this Hudson Valley village on the map. [section]Dating back to the 1640s, Sleepy Hollow is one of the most famous haunted towns in the world. The Old Dutch Burying Ground is one of the oldest cemeteries in America and houses the graves of Irving’s models for Ichabod Crane, Brom Bones, and Katrina Van Tassel.
Sightings of the Headless Horseman have been reported both at this cemetery and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where Irving is buried. Patriot’s Park between Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown is said to be haunted by Major Andre, Irving’s model for the headless Hessian soldier. Hour-long tours of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery cost $10 and should be scheduled in advance.
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Cherrye Moore is a Texas-born freelance writer, travel consultant and bed-and-breakfast owner in Italy.