Haunted and creepy areas seem to attract us; the more morbid the place, the better. But why is it so? Is it because of the history the site holds? Or do we simply liked being freaked out? Whatever the reason, there are plenty of exciting places to explore around the world that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. From the United States to the far reaches of Europe and Asia, we will explore some of the scariest places on Earth.
Veijo Ronkkonen Sculpture Garden, Parikkala, Finland
Ronkkonen was a contemporary folk artist from Finland; he lived alone and liked to keep to himself, often not allowing his work to be displayed in public places. This sculpture garden was built in his backyard, away from the prying eye. The most extensive collection consists of around 200 statues; all self-portraits and all in yoga poses. As if these weren’t bad enough, the garden also holds other disturbing individual figures: one of a nun creeping behind some bushes and another of a cloaked man with extra-long, outstretched arms. What makes them especially creepy, you may be asking? Both of these statues are outfitted with real human teeth and completely black eyes.
Veijo took his time with his garden: it took him 50 years and 500 sculptures to finish his greatest masterpiece. Although he did not discourage visitors, he did not want to set up a dedicated tourist attraction while he was alive. After his death, the gardens became available to the public for tours, and the owner also decided to refurbish the sculptures since the elements had weathered them.
While the castle itself may not be haunted per se, the history this place holds will make your skin crawl. The most famous inhabitant of this ancient abode was countess Elizabeth Bathory; history tells us she received the castle from her first husband at the age of 14. While her husband was alive, Elizabeth seems to have been able to control her darker side, but after his death in 1604, accusations against her started to circulate. Elizabeth began to routinely torture and even kill servants for minor mistakes. Things did not stop here though; she started to send out her servants and maids into the neighboring villages to find young girls they could bring back to the castle, where most of them ended up dead.
The townspeople started to notice that women never seemed to return after staying in the castle, so they began to refuse Elizabeth’s staff when they came knocking. Elizabeth was inevitably forced to change her tactics: she then decided to open a girl’s school for etiquette for noble ladies. This was her eventual downfall: noble ladies going missing attracted more attention than simple peasant girls. Angry fathers reported her to the authorities in 1910; upon their visit, they discovered injured and dead girls strewn about the property.
Her three loyal servants were immediately taken into custody: both female offenders had their fingertips pulled off and were thrown into a fire pit while still alive while the male was beheaded and thrown into a hole. Elizabeth was never outright accused of anything, possibly because of her high status.
Elizabeth did not go without punishment, in any case. While her servants stood trial and execution, she was walled off in a tower of her own home (for a total of four years). She was fed through a tiny slot in the wall. She was found dead in her cell in 1614. While the castle is in ruins today, hikers often make their way up to the old home to visit a museum and a church that is in the actual town of Cachtice dedicated to Elizabeth and her home.
Far from an island paradise, this famous place off the coast of Italy was once home to sufferers of the plague, when a considerable portion of Europe’s population was wiped out. After it was used for the physically ill, it was then used for the mentally ill: in the 20th century, the island housed an insane asylum. The island itself has been uninhabited since 1968 when the shelter was closed.
Interestingly enough, the island still produces grape vines! The only people to visit the island these days are those brave enough to want to pick the delicious fruit. What could be so creepy about this? Reports show that the soil the grapes grow in contains human ash.
No part of this island is left unscarred from what occurred over the years. Having seen over 100,000 plague and people with mental health conditions, it is no wonder that human bones continue to wash up on shore to this day.
Sadly, no one is legally allowed to visit the island. However, this does not stop thrill-seekers from coming ashore, either looking for grapes, bones, or the chance at seeing one of the many spirits reported to haunt the old asylum.
Nicknamed “The Death Road,” North Yungas Road is one of the scariest roads you’ll ever encounter. The trail winds its way through the Amazon forest at the height of more than 15,000 feet. If heights do not freak you out, just imagine driving on a 12-foot wide single lane with no guard rails and low visibility. The road has claimed between 200 and 300 deaths. Although it can still be used, it is mostly utilized by mountain bikers.
The history of the road is also fascinating: prisoners of war built it in the 1930s. It was declared the world’s most dangerous way in 1995; possibly because of this, a new road was constructed in 2006.
Most of us are aware of what happened at this historic landmark, but it is still worth a mention on this list. Salem was home to the most aggressive witch hunt in history. The trials occurred between 1692 and 1693. Over the course of the year, 200 people were accused of witchcraft, while only 20 were executed. Eventually, it came out that the trials were a mistake, and retribution was paid to the families affected.
In the spring of 1962, a group of young girls in the village of Salem stated that they had been possessed by the devil while also accusing other local women of practicing witchcraft. As paranoia rose throughout the community and a special court was established to judge these girls; one of the girls was hung that June. Eighteen more victims followed her to their deaths, while 200 men, women, and children were accused but never faced their deaths.
Beneath this city lies hundreds of miles of bone-filled tunnels. It is estimated that more than six million people are buried here. The bones are stacked in intricate patterns, almost like a work of art.
Why are so many people buried here? In the 1700’s the people of Paris ran into a problem; their cemeteries started running out of space. It got to the point that bodies began to become uncovered, and their rot and stink could be smelled from miles around. The precipitating event came in 1780: that year saw much rain, which caused a cemetery to collapse, spilling corpses into the streets. The solution was to put them beneath the city: the tunnels already existed from the time the limestone quarries were mined starting in the 13th century.
Cemeteries began being emptied in 1786, and it took a total of 12 years to move all of the bodies beneath the city. During the French Revolution, bodies were immediately taken to be buried in the catacombs instead of being interred in a cemetery. The town stopped doing so in 1860.
Today visits to the catacombs cost about $4, but you can only visit a small portion of the tunnels. Most of them are kept off-limits to the public.
Dubbed “The Suicide Forest,” this serene forest has seen more death than most natural settings. It is actually the second most popular site for suicides (beaten by the Golden Gate Bridge). What makes this place so eerie is the sight of so many strings; so many people get lost within the trees that they try to trace their steps with lines. Some people who get lost eventually take their lives, but there are some who go into the forest for the simple reason of taking their own life. In 2010, 54 bodies were found throughout the forest.
It is thought that the forest was first used for an ancient tradition named ubasute, which is a horrible form of euthanasia. During times of famine, families would lead their elderly relatives out into the forest, where they would eventually die of starvation, dehydration, or exposure.
More About Aokigahara Forest, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan
Some volunteers search the forest for bodies. Police help in the search to take the bodies for proper burial. The government does not like to release the number of bodies recovered to discourage further suicide attempts; however, it is estimated that between 70 and 100 bodies are recovered each year.
The forest is available for tours but keep safe by staying on the path that has been laid out for eager travelers.
Search for oil created this scary wonder. Soviet scientists were searching for oil back in 1971 when they hit a reserve of methane, and their equipment collapsed, forming the pit while also releasing all of that gas into the atmosphere. To burn off the gas, the scientists decided to light the crater ablaze; unfortunately, it has been burning non-stop for the past 40 years.
In 2010, the president of Turkmenistan visited the site and ordered that the deadly pit be filled in. He worries that the fire will deter the development of other gas fields in the area. To date, no action has been taken to fix the problem.
Today, both tourists and wildlife visit the burning pit. While people typically are not affected by the methane gas being emitted, animals seem to face some problems. Though methane itself is not toxic, it does displace oxygen, making it more difficult to breathe.
Although no threat to humans, this displacement is deadly to wildlife; soon after the collapse of the Door to Hell, animals around the area began to die. So this may not be a pet-friendly travel destination.
Home to the famous rifle maker, his widow is responsible for this scary wonder. After her husband’s death, Sarah Winchester started adding to a quaint ranch home, but in some bizarre ways. Today, the house consists of seven stories, 10,000 window panes, 161 rooms, 47 fireplaces, two basements, three elevators, and 47 stairways, some of which lead nowhere at all.
Sarah was determined to make this house her own. After purchasing the home in 1884 after the death of her husband, Sarah hired contractors to work around the clock. Because there were no blueprints for construction, the house became a hodge-podge of rooms, halls, and stairs. Rooms were added onto the outside walls, so windows looked into other rooms and staircases were added so haphazardly that they were often different sizes and distorted.
More About Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California
What makes this story so creepy is that it seems that the changes made to the house were all unnecessary. Staircases end suddenly, doors open to solid walls, and hallways turn into dead ends. Some speculate that the confusing nature of the house was meant to confuse the ghosts of those who had been killed by her husband’s guns.
In 1904, a terrible earthquake struck San Jose, causing some damage to the Winchester home. Since the house has a floating foundation, the entire house was saved from collapse. In the end, the top three floors of the house were removed so that, today, it now stands four stories tall instead of the full seven.
We have seen the dead buried under a city, now how about dead bodies hanging off the side of a cliff? That is precisely what you will find here in the Philippines. This is a tradition dating back thousands of years. The individual makes each coffin it belongs, and once they pass, their remains are hoisted up next to their ancestors.
Tradition holds that the elderly carve their own coffins from wooden logs. If the elderly cannot take on such a task, the family is responsible for carving the coffin for them. Once deceased, the bodies are placed inside (sometimes breaking bones in the process) and are then taken to a cave. The coffins are either hung inside the cave or on the cliff face. Eventually, the coffins will degrade over time and fall to the ground.
What is the reason for this tradition? The people of Sagada believe that the higher bodies are buried, the easier it is for their spirits to relinquish a higher place in the afterlife. Although the coffins are in hard to reach areas, visitors may still come to glace them from afar.
More dead bodies are coming your way! In these catacombs, around 8,000 bodies can be found. Instead of being under the capital, this spooky place can be located beneath a monastery. What’s so creepy about a bunch of bones?
These bones are often outfitted in clothes that reflect the station they held in life. It was first created to keep the bones of religious officials but was later expanded to include wealthy and noble families.
These catacombs were created for the same reason they were in Paris: they started to run out of room in the local cemeteries. What is different here is how they are laid out; there are separate spaces for religious figures, professionals, children, and virgins.
It is thought that the super dry air underneath the monastery is responsible for the almost perfect mummification process. The process went something like this: priests would lie the body out on a shelf to drain, and after a year, the body would be treated with vinegar and redressed before being placed in the proper spot. This process has kept some bodies well preserved for hundreds of years.
The Tower of London was once used as a prison and has seen many executions. The tower was first built by William the Conqueror and took 20 years to construct. Killings were not the only blood to be shed here. It is said that King Henry IV was murdered while he was praying in the King’s Private Chapel. In 1674 two skeletons were unearthed and were believed to be the two sons of Edward IV.
For 800 years, the tower served as a prison. Some people stayed a few days; others spent quite a bit of time here before they were eventually executed. What is interesting is that in the 20th century, German spies were brought here to be shot.
The tower also holds a new myth surrounding ravens. The old story goes that if the ravens leave the tower, both it and the kingdom will fall. Today, seven ravens call the Tower home. The Tower of London is one of the world’s leading tourist attractions.
This tiny Japanese village is home to a mere 35 residents: no wonder it turned out a little creepy. A local artist by the name of Tsukimi Ayano created life-sized dolls to replace the villagers that had died or moved away. The town now consists of around 350 toys.
The creator herself used to live in the village, and upon returning, realized that the place she held dear to her heart was slowly disappearing. After concocting a scarecrow modeled after her father, she decided to make dolls to replace every person who had left the small village. After working for over a decade, she finally finished her collection of creepy creatures. To this day, Ayano continues to make changes and fixes to her creations; she regularly fixes damaged dolls and creates new ones.
Now bed and breakfast, this home was the sight of a grizzly murder back in 1892. Lizzie Borden, the alleged perpetrator of the crimes, was eventually acquitted. She was accused of murdering her father and stepmother, both with a hatchet.
Her father was found on the sofa, having been struck with the ax 11 times; his face was disfigured entirely, both eyes cut in half, and his nose severed from his face. Mrs. Borden was found upstairs in the bedroom, having being struck 19 times and had been the first one attacked.
More About the Lizzie Borden House, Fall River, Massachusetts
At first, no one even suspected Lizzie as a culprit. But there was too much circumstantial evidence against her. Her statement simply did not make sense that she was out in the barn at the time of the murders: since it was discovered that Mrs. Borden was murdered a few hours before her husband, the killer would have had to lie in wait for his next victim inside the house, which was not possible with the servants and Lizzie running around. She was also seen burning a dress she claimed was too soiled to wear any longer.
Another point of interest here is that, at the time of questioning, Lizzie claimed that her mother had gone out to see a friend after having received a note. The note, however, was never discovered. Lizzie tried to dispute this by saying that her stepmother could have burned the letter before going out.
Lizzie’s trial lasted two weeks. She was eventually found not guilty, even after testimony from a pharmacist claiming that just the day before the murders, Lizzie had come into his store asking to purchase cyanide, which she needed a prescription for before she could buy. After the trial, Lizzie and her sister left the house and bought a new one in Fall River.
It is precisely what it sounds like: a hill filled with crosses. People have been placing crosses here for a long time, since the 14th century at the earliest. The crosses at first were an expression of the desire for Lithuanian independence. After independence was achieved, the hill transformed into a burial ground.
In 1831 the country was torn apart by a peasant uprising, and they used the hill to bury the fallen. This scary site is also a place of Soviet defiance; the Soviets actually tore down all of the crosses on three separate occasions. The locals were persistent, however, and kept replacing the crosses. Today, there are about 100,000 crosses upon the hill.
The Russian tsar actually denied the people of Lithuania from adequately burying their dead in cemeteries, which some speculate is the reason the hill was chosen as a resting place in the first place. The crosses are available for view today, with a myriad of organizations maintaining the upkeep of the grounds.
This wonder is located about 60 miles from the coast of Belize; it consists of a beautiful coral reef and breathtaking views. Inside this reef, there is a giant blue hole, literally. It drops down about 400 feet and is 1,000 feet wide!
It’s a giant sinkhole in the middle of the ocean. It may seem scary, but the place is pretty beautiful. The Great Blue Hole is home to some of the most amazing features, including underwater stalactites and stalagmites. There is also a limestone shelf surrounding the hole that sits 40 feet below the surface.
The Great Hole is the most gigantic sea hole in the world! Sea holes are really caves that were eventually submerged under rising waters. This particular sea whole was covered over 10,000 years ago. The site did not become popular until 1971 when Jacques Cousteau visited the hole.
A few more interesting facts about this creepy wonder before moving on. The hole is home to a few species of sharks and can be seen from space! Due to the nature of this natural wonder, only experienced divers are allowed into the underwater cave system.
This tiny island is most famous for hundreds of dolls and doll parts hanging from the trees. The island used to be the home of a man named Julian Santa Barrera. He was the one responsible for placing the dolls around the island. The story goes that Barrera found the body of a girl in one of the canals surrounding the island and put up the dolls in order to ward off evil spirits as well as to honor the memory of the deceased young girl.
Another story has it that the girl’s spirit possessed the dolls. After finding the girl’s body, Barrera found a baby doll floating in the water, which he presumed to belong to the girl he had seen. According to Julian, he was haunted by the spirit of the girl, which is what precipitated him putting up dolls around the island.
The island is visited often, and individuals even bring their own dolls to add to the extensive collection. What may have been a man’s innocent desire to honor the untimely death of a young girl inevitably turned into a morbid tourist attraction — who knew?
While we have already mentioned a few demented artists, here is another worth mentioning. Although a more substantial work, it still contains some of the most bizarre works of art the human mind can imagine.
Haw Par Villa is an 82-year-old theme park, but nothing like you have ever seen before. The park contains over 1,000 statues that will leave your skin crawling. The main attraction of the park is called Ten Courts of Hell, which is an underworld themed attraction. While meant for children, this attraction is as extraordinary as you can get: exhibits include people cut in half, dismembered, and thrown onto a hill of knives.
Haw Par Villa was built in 1937 by the founders of Tiger Balm. Originally named Tiger Balm Gardens, the theme park was abandoned during World War II when the Japanese used the grounds as a place to watch the sea for invaders.
You may be thinking, what could be so gruesome about a glacier? Well, this is no ordinary glacier. This particular glacier houses a five-story crimson red waterfall. This is an entirely natural phenomenon dating back millions of years.
What happened here is that the glacier trapped a microbe-rich lake beneath it, effectively keeping light and oxygen away from the water, which caused it to become more concentrated with salt and iron. Because the salt content is so high in the water, the water never freezes; this is also what gives the water its color.
More natural wonders are coming your way! The peak of this volcano is impressive in itself, consisting of sulfurous gases that can reach temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
The gases sometimes condense into a solid, lending the lava from the volcano a blue hue. Sulfur also produces beautiful colors as it burns in the air. The lake beside the volcano has also been transformed by the sulfur gas: it has turned green!
This town was once known for its productive coal mines between 1800 and 1960. In 1962, one of the mines caught fire and wound up spreading underground. The fire didn’t pose a problem until 1979 when gasoline tanks started experiencing abnormally high temperatures and then in 1981 when a boy fell into a sinkhole in his backyard that was created by the underground fire.
As of 2014, only seven people inhabit the town. To this day, smoke can still be seen coming out from fissures created in the ground; scientists believe the fire will continue to burn for hundreds of years to come.
Everything in the town remains exactly as it was left. Creepy right? The most iconic remnant of the city is a giant Ferris Wheel. Officials say that once radiation has reached safe levels, the town will reopen as a tourist attraction.