6 of the World's Spookiest Places
Updated: April 19, 2023
Sedlec Ossuary, Kutná Hora, Czech Republic
When space is scarce, many cultures have turned to ossuaries—a chest, building, well, or site to house human skeletal remains. Ossuaries are creepy by nature, but the most notable one takes the spooky factor to a whole new level. Sedlec Ossuary, located in Kutná Hora, Czech Republic, is a Catholic chapel that’s estimated to contain the skeletons for 40,000–70,000 people. But wait, there’s more! Instead of simply storing the bones in the basement or something, they’ve been arranged in intricate detail. You’ll find a chandelier made completely of bones, garlands comprised of skulls, an intricate family crest and four humongous pyramids piled high with human bones. Just an hour’s train ride outside of Prague, this site is one of the country’s most visited. Trust me, a trip here will be etched in your memory forever.
Isla de las Muñecas, Mexico
I know it may be a polarizing topic, but I think a lot of us find dolls to be totally creepy. Especially old ones. And especially old ones abandoned at a deserted island. Enter Isla de las Muñecas, a small island south of Mexico City. This place didn’t start out as a creepy tourist attraction. It’s meant to be a memorial to a girl who drowned off the shores of the island. Though this death has never been confirmed, the island is now home to hundreds of dolls, many not intact. You’ll find limbs, heads, and limp doll bodies just hanging all over the place. Visitors claim they’ve seen the dolls moving all on their own. I don’t believe it… or maybe I just don’t want to.
Catacombs of Paris
Oh, Paris! The City of Light! And 6 million skeletons buried beneath it. Situated about 60 feet below the city, you’ll find tunnels paved with the remains of Parisians. From the late 18th through the early 19th centuries, bodies were moved from cemeteries to underground catacombs as a precautionary measure. Because everything is more romantic in Paris, the remains were arranged in beautiful (or macabre. Whatever!) tableaus. It’s estimated that there are 200 miles of tunnels under the city, some of which are completely uncharted. Visit the Catacomb Museum, or for a more in-depth experience, take a guided tour. It’s freaky fun.
iStockphoto.com/Jessica K Walters
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, West Virginia
Just the word asylum makes me shudder. And an abandoned one? I’m sweating just thinking about it. There are a few notable ones in the USA, like Waverly Hills Sanatorium, a 20th-century early Tudor Gothic Revival building in Louisville, KY. However, I think the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum takes the cake. Though clearly not a politically correct name by modern standards, this former hospital is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America. The original hospital opened in 1864, intended to care for 250 patients. In the 1950s, it housed 2,400 patients in overcrowded, poor conditions. The hospital closed in 1994, due to deterioration and its general out-of-date approach to dealing with mental illness.
Today you may tour the property. The first floor is home to two wards as well as the Civil War Section of the hospital. You can also visit the doctors’ apartments, nurses’ quarters, and Ward F, where the most deviant of patients lived. Want an even spookier experience? Sign up for an overnight ghost tour, where you’ll explore the asylum from dusk until dawn. Eeeeee!
St. Augustine Lighthouse, Florida
It’s said the St. Augustine is the oldest city in the US. And with that title comes a whole slew of paranormal lore. One of the most notable haunted sites is the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, located at the north end of Anastasia Island. Visitors have reported seeing shadows, hearing voices and witnessing two little girls on the lighthouse catwalk, said to be the lighthouse keeper’s daughters who both drowned during the lighthouse’s construction. The lighthouse offers “Dark of the Moon” tours, aka nighttime tours that cover the history and ghost stories. If you’re into paranormal investigation, you can sign up for a 2.5- to 3-hour tour that does just that.
Hashima Island, Japan
Just off the coast of Nagasaki, you’ll find a tiny, fortress-like island. In the early 1900s, the Mitsubishi Corporation created a town in the middle of the sea on what’s since been dubbed Gunkanjima, or “Battleship Island.” One look at it, and it’s easy to see how it earned the name. The less than one-square-kilometer island became home to 6,000 people, and many ten-story apartment complexes, as well as schools, restaurants and more. The island was once the most densely packed place in the world. Today, it’s entirely abandoned, uninhabited for over 40 years. Visiting this seriously post-apocalyptic wonder isn’t for the faint of heart. The whole place is at risk of crumbling, the island is only accessible on organized tours.
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