Once known as Boston Village, Helltown is a nickname that has long endured and, given all the myths and mysteries attached to this unnerving place, it isn’t difficult to understand why. The US Government’s attempts to establish a National Park here in the 1970s didn’t quite go to plan and, after acquiring the land, evicting residents and boarding up homes and businesses, things took a dark turn.
No Trespassing signs sprang up and as the weeds told hold and the abandoned properties fell into ruin, the scare stories started to spread. The church that beckons Satanists; the toxic chemicals found dumped here; the mutant creatures and monstrous snake; the abandoned bus and its resident ghosts.
Such urban legends persist and, whilst clean-up operations have been established in order to make this a less frightening place, you’ll still need great courage to visit.
Pripyat is an eerie ghost town like no other. Located just 3 km from the former Chernobyl Nuclear Station, and abandoned within hours of the catastrophic fire and explosion at the No.4 reactor there in 1986, time has stood still here ever since.
Considered too dangerous for human habitation for at least 24,000 years due to the resulting radioactive outfall, it is possible to visit these days, but be prepared for an unnerving experience.
The schools, hospitals, shops and amusement park all still stand, albeit frozen in time, with nature reclaiming the crumbling city, weeds all around, whilst wild animals (including lynx, wolves and boar) lurk unseen on the fringes.
Some 49,000 people once lived here and reminders remain strewn on the ground, with possessions left and homes abandoned as the panicked population fled, leaving all behind as the fires raged close by. Haunting and ghostly, Pripyat unsettles the curious courageous enough to make the trip from Kiev. Stick together. This is no place to be alone.
Stull Cemetery, Kansas
Stull Cemetery is a small outpost that is home to few but where dark myths endure and urban legends persist. Firstly, it’s located in Kansas, where Satan is rumoured to make regular visits and one of the seven gates to Hell is said to be sited.
Some believe access to the underworld can be found in this unnerving cemetery, and although much about such fables emanates from a student newspaper article in the 1970s, those believing in paranormal might want to avoid it. Demonic forces are said to be at work here and it’s best avoided after dark.
Once known as Deer Creek, Stull Cemetery has never beckoned settlers in great number and those who do pass through don’t tend to stick around for long. You might not believe in such things, but you might find yourself frightened if you do choose to visit.
Hanging Coffins of Sagada, Philippines
Dating back more than 2,000 years, the Hanging Coffins of Sagada point to a custom that has long drawn the curious to Mountain Province, a remote corner of the northern Philippines, where ancient practices and beliefs continue to endure.
Harnessed to the hillsides here, the coffins contain the bodies of those who feared burial, believing such an end to their days made their body vulnerable to predators.
Hung from high, these people believed that their unusual approach would bring the deceased closer to Heaven and so precarious are some of the perches here that an exhausting trek must be undertaken in order to catch a glimpse. The sight is a strange one and the atmosphere haunting, but for those determined to see the hanging coffins for themselves, the effort is worthwhile. Feeling brave? The dark corners of the Lumiang Burial Cave are certain to test your courage.
Beelitz-Heilst’tten Hospital, Beelitz, Germany
Drawn to dark places? It doesn’t get much more macabre than Beelitz-Heilst’tten, an abandoned former military hospital complex, some 30 miles from Berlin, that once counted an injured Adolf Hitler amongst its patients.
This is a ghostly place, with its peeling paint and graffiti-marked walls, where the suffocating vines have long since taken over and the rusted beds are still to be seen. Occupied by the Red Army during the final days of World War II, Beelitz-Heilst’tten remained a Soviet military facility until 1995. Since being abandoned following the fall of East Germany, time has stood still here and the result is haunting.
Drawing a surprising number of visitors with an interest in the ghoulish, this is where Hitler was brought having been wounded at The Somme during the First World War. Countless Nazi soldiers and sympathisers were treated here in subsequent years.
Hussaini Hanging Bridge, Pakistan
Linking remote regions in northern Pakistan, the Hussaini Hanging Bridge is precarious in the extreme, a crossing that tests nerve and certainly not a bridge to cross if you’re afraid of heights.
Such bridges are not uncommon here, but this one, dangling over Borit Lake in the Hunza Valley, is renowned. The planks that form the main platform are well spaced out – or, in some instances, missing altogether – whilst the cables that, somehow, hold the whole thing up do little to inspire confidence.
Strong winds blow through the valley, whilst an old bridge can still be seen below, wrecked and abandoned, making the sight even more frightening. Need to get across? Hold on tight and don’t look down.
“Bloods Falls”, Taylor Glacier, Antarctica
There is something both alien and unnerving about Taylor Glacier. All around is pristine, white and frozen which makes this spectacle even more fascinating. “Blood Falls” has puzzled explorers, adventurers and scientists for decades.
The raging red torrent that gushes from the glacier’s mysterious heart is an unusual sight. That, until recently, Blood Falls’ secrets have remained hidden and unexplained has drawn those with a penchant for the otherworldly.
First discovered in 1911, Blood Falls is shrouded in myth and, although the truth appears rather more prosaic (scientists believe the red waters are the result of oxidised iron in the brine seawater), to see the strange waters pouring from the glacier is still an unsettling experience for those who make the long trek in order to catch a glimpse. The environment is cold and hostile and there are still those who believe there are mysteries to be solved here. It certainly look to us like the glacier is bleeding!
Kawah Ijen Volcano, Java, Indonesia
Volcanos tend to be terrifying, but Kawah Ijen cranks the fear up to another level with its famous blue fires, shooting flames 16 feet into the air, reaching temperatures up to 600 degrees Celsius and emitting its toxic sulphur fumes.
Still, visitors can’t get enough and for those courageous enough to brave the two-hour trek to the crater edge, sights from another world await. Best viewed in the dead of night, the Blue Fire Volcano emits a startling light as its sulphuric gases emerge from cracks and crevices at high speed, igniting upon contact with the air and illuminating the skies of East Java with a show that must be seen to be believed.
With the toxic fumes hampering breathing and visibility, and the largest highly-acidic crater lake in the world just a stumble away, this isn’t a destination for the nervous.
Christ of the Abyss, San Fruttuoso, Italy
Standing two-and-a-half metres tall, arms stretched out to the Heavens and fixed to the seabed, some 17 metres beneath the sun-kissed surface, Christ of the Abyss is a sight that few get to see.
Encrusted with barnacles and surrounded by lurking sea creatures, the bronze statue commemorates Dario Gonzatti, the first Italian to use scuba equipment, who died in these waters whilst diving in 1947. It’s calm and it’s quiet down here in the depths. It’s also rather creepy.
Found deep in the Mediterranean, between Camogli and Portofino on the beautiful Italian Riviera, you’ll need to be an accomplished diver to make it to see Christ of the Abyss. This sight may be close to Italy’s top tourist spots, but beneath the waves the atmosphere changes in dramatic fashion and those courageous enough to take the plunge often find the experience to be still and haunting.
Hua Shan Plank Walk, China
Don’t like heights? You’ll want to give the Hua Shan Plank Walk a miss. Even for the most courageous climbers, venturing out onto the rickety wooden platform, a precarious position thousands of feet above the distant ground below, can prove to be a step too far.
Located one hour from Xi’an, a popular tourist destination, Hua Shan beckons the brave, with visitors keen to tackle a walk billed as the Most Dangerous Hike on Earth. The bravado often disappears upon seeing the narrow planks bolted to the mountainside, though. Stepping out is a major undertaking.
For those able to conquer their fears, the reward is a remarkable view out over the neighbouring tree-lined mountains, although you’re advised to think twice about looking down. Given that reaching the plank walk is an epic undertaking in itself, with countless obstacles to overcome (including near-vertical steps and sheer rock faces that offer few hand holds and little assistance), your courage will be tested in no uncertain fashion before you even get here.
Capuchin Catacombs, Palermo, Sicily, Italy
Tourist attractions don’t get much more macabre than the Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo, home to the largest collection of mummies on Earth, with more than 8,000 corpses lining the walls and giving the creepiest of welcomes for those who are brave enough to visit.
Some of the bodies are set in poses and many are clothed and with so much death on display, it’s little surprise that the result is so unsettling. The oldest corpse here dates back to 1599, the most recent to the 1920s, one of the last to be interred a two-year-old girl called Rosalia Lombardo, whose body is so well preserved that she is known as Sleeping Beauty.
The catacombs are dark and dusty, the air is musty, while bodies of all shapes and sizes lurk in every corner. Morbid and macabre, you wouldn’t want to get locked in here with the resident 1,252 mummies after dark.
The Door to Hell, Derweze, Ahal Province, Turkmenistan
Measuring 69 metres from side to side and 30 metres deep, The Door to Hell captivates visitors with its fearsome flames and boiling mud in the Karakum Desert, an otherwise-remote area in northern Turkmenistan that makes for the unlikeliest of destinations for tourists.
Burning without interruption since 1971, The Door to Hell rages and roils, a pit of blazing methane that lights the night skies and makes for a terrifying spectacle.
There is much legend, myth and mystery, but the crater’s origins are rather more prosaic, the result of an ill-fated Soviet mission to find oil in Turkmenistan’s rich fields, efforts to drill striking a natural gas pocket, with the ground collapsing into an underground cavern and the subsequent flames claiming all.
Unique and strangely fascinating, The Door to Hell is a sight to behold, with the most courageous visitors choosing to camp in the surrounding desert before making their approach.
Sedlec Ossuary, Kutn’ Hora, Czech Republic
Sedlec Ossuary, a one-hour train ride from picturesque Prague, in the Czech Republic, is better known as The Bone Church. Take a look around and you’ll soon see why.
Just about everything here appears to have been fashioned from human bones, from the chalices and the candelabras to the remarkable chandelier that hangs from the ceiling and which is said to have been made from at least one of every bone in the body.
There are believed to be bones from more than 40,000 people here, a great number of them victims of the Plague in Europe, and with so much death on open display, it’s perhaps no surprise that the mood is so macabre. Thinking about paying a visit? It’s rather grim but be sure to look out for the famous coat of arms, depicting a raven pecking at a severed head and made, of course, from human bones.
North Yungas Road, Bolivia
Built by Paraguayan prisoners in the 1930s, North Yungas has long been considered the world’s most dangerous road. Countless people have died here and, looking around, it’s not difficult to understand its hazardous reputation.
It’s steep and it’s narrow, the surface leaves much to be desired and the drops, for those misjudging hairpin bends that verge on the impossible, are deadly. Its unofficial name is the ‘Road of Death’ and this is not exaggerating things.
The weather plays its part here – it’s often wet and foggy – whilst landslides are always a distinct possibility. Crosses and memorials dot the roadside in tribute to those who have lost their lives here, but still people choose to travel the trail, between La Paz and Bolivia’s Yungas region, and still people take risks. Those heading here are advised to be sensible, to take their time and to keep their wits about them.
Haw Par Villa, Singapore
Often described as a theme park that boasts an eclectic treasure trove of Asian culture, history, philosophy and religion, Haw Par Villa doesn’t sound too terrifying.
But to dig a little deeper beneath the surface is to discover frights aplenty, with park guides advising visitor discretion and parental guidance in regard to some of the scarier exhibits and attractions to be discovered here.
Haw Par Villa has long been renowned for its vivid description of the Ten Courts of Hell, a terrifying tale long passed down through Chinese folklore, whilst those feeling courageous are challenged to visit the park at twilight. Journeys to Hell – Death and Afterlife in Haw Par Villa is an attraction that cranks the terror levels up an extra notch as night starts to fall, giving the theme park an altogether darker and more sinister side that those who underestimate it often come to regret.
Hill of Crosses, Lithuania
Religious fervour abounds in northern Lithuania, where, on a hillside not far from ‘iauliai, crosses and crucifixes tower over all, a breath-taking sight, but one that can leave visitors feeling somewhat unsettled.
The precise number of crosses here is unknown (their number is growing all the time), but there are more than 100,000 dotted all over the hillside, filling all available spaces and forever jostling for position. The authorities in Lithuania have, on occasion, tried to clear the site, but to no avail. The crosses always return, ever greater in number.
Their precise origin is a mystery, but with crosses thought to have first appeared following the 1831 uprising, this is a custom that has long persisted. The Hill of Crosses has come to represent the peaceful endurance of Lithuanian Catholics, but as the dangling rosaries chime and jingle in the breeze here, it can sometimes leave sightseers with a deep sense of unease.
Veijo R’nkk’nen Sculpture Garden, Parikkala, Finland
To call this place creepy doesn’t quite do it justice. Located in the sprawling grounds of the former home of the late artist Veijo R’nkk’nen, in South-East Finland, not far from the Russian border, are almost 500 figures, created using concrete.
Their eyes are sunken, their expressions blank and their bodies skeletal. Some bear ghoulish grins that unnerve the unprepared. Others have mouths that are filled with human teeth. Their poses are unsettling (in one setting, some 200 can be found in various yoga positions), whilst those that emerge from the surrounding trees can often catch visitors unawares.
It’s a strange and eerie place, with the sound effects that drift from the forest doing little to lighten the mood. R’nkk’nen, who lived here for 50 years until his death in 2010, was a recluse and did little to encourage visitors. Today, the unwelcoming mood endures, with suspicious eyes everywhere and those exploring the hidden corners always being watched.
The Island of the Dolls, Xochimilco, Mexico City, Mexico
Maximum creepiness is discovered on the Isla de las Munecas, a place of shadows and secrets, of cobwebs and insects, and of severed limbs and decapitated heads.
The limbs and the heads are not real, of course, belonging rather to hundreds and hundreds of dolls, but that makes the experience no less creepy or the place, hidden among the Xochimilco canals in the south of Mexico City, no less terrifying.
Said to be dedicated to the soul of a drowned child, discovered in the water here 50 years ago, the island has become an unlikely tourist destination. Julian Santana Barrera, who began the custom of hanging doll parts from the trees, weirdly himself later drowned here… This has done little to deter sightseers, if anything, it has made them even keener. Would you be brave enough to wander here by yourself?
Children fill the classrooms in the village school, a man fishes in the river, while others await a bus in a roadside shelter. They’re all made from straw.
Welcome to Nagoro. Hidden in the tranquil valleys of Shikoku, artist Ayano Tsukimi has spent years repopulating a village that, having once boasted more than 350 permanent residents (her father included), has seen its numbers drop to fewer than 40. Her life-size dolls depict former inhabitants. The result couldn’t be creepier.
Sightseers head to the Scarecrow Village, where the mannequins outnumber living humans, for an experience that is unsettling in the extreme. There are workers in the fields and fixing the roads, cyclists taking a break in the afternoon sun, whilst the village elders sit and watch from a spot in the shade. None are real and look a little bit creepy. Nagoro might be one of the eeriest places on earth.
Black Plague Island, Italy
Located just half-a-mile from the chaotic streets and canals of Venice, Poveglia (aka Black Plague Island) is a dark place that doesn’t feature on the tourist itineraries.
Used as a quarantine station between 1797 and 1814, it is thought more than 160,000 infected souls lived out their final days and hours here. So great was the death toll as the disease took its grip on the local population, rumour has it that some 50% of the island’s soil is comprised of human remains.
That the island was later home to a mental hospital just adds to the macabre air that hangs over Poveglia. According to local legend, a doctor developed a penchant for torturing and murdering his patients. Having long since fallen into ruin, this is an eerie place and one that, despite its obvious proximity, might as well be a million miles from the Venetian hustle and bustle going on across the lagoon.
Museum Vrolik, Amsterdam
Even in Amsterdam, where anything goes, Museum Vrolik comes with a warning. ‘Not suitable for kids’, the tour guides advise.
Yet even for adult visitors with a cast-iron constitution, this might prove to be an attraction too far. Billed as ‘perhaps the largest collection of human deformities in one place’, this is a strange and disturbing place indeed, old fashioned, quiet and, above all, spooky. Interested in the unusual? There’s no question that you’ll discover it here.
Once a private collection of embryos and anatomical anomalies, Museum Vrolik prides itself on its unusual and unsettling exhibits, with countless oddities, deformities and mutilations in human and animal anatomy amongst the items that are on permanent display here. Like to see something different? Take a deep breath and head inside, but never lose sight of the nearest exit.
Cahills Crossing, Australia
It’s not deep, and is just a few metres wide, yet Cahill’s Crossing, in the Northern Territory, is considered amongst the most dangerous bodies of water in all of Australia. The reason? Crocodiles. Lots of crocodiles.
The East Alligator River swarms with super-size crocs, gathered to feast on the plentiful fish here, and thrill-seekers congregate in great number to see the monstrous reptiles at close quarters. Sometimes, however, those quarters are just a little too close.
Despite the warning signs, some cannot resist trying to cross, either by vehicle or on foot, but with high tides submerging the track and strong currents always a danger, to do so is to dice with death. For the hundreds of saltwater crocodiles gathered here, Cahill’s Crossing is a feeding ground without equal. Unfortunately for the foolish, it isn’t always fish that’s on the menu and those who get too close don’t always make it out alive.
Villisca Axe Murder House, Iowa
Image: Jason McLaren, Wikipedia Commons
Looking for somewhere a little different to stay? Try spending the night at the Villisca Axe Murder House in Iowa.
It was here, in June 1912, that eight people, six of them children, were murdered in the most brutal fashion, their killer sneaking in in the dead of night, before leaving, unseen, locking the front door behind him. The culprit was never identified, and the crime never solved. Now, more than 100 years later, those with a fascination for all matters macabre, can head to Villisca to see the house of horrors for themselves.
Tours run during daylight hours, but if that’s a bit too tame, then you can spend the night here for around $400. Many guests have reportedly experienced paranormal activity, with phenomena including moving ladders, flying objects and the sound of children’s voices.
Bell Witch Cave, Tennessee
Image: Www78, Wikipedia Commons
There’s no such thing as witches, right? You might not be quite so convinced when you arrive in Tennessee and head to the mysterious cave that has been at the centre of Southern folklore for more than two centuries.
Found amongst the rolling hills and picturesque farmland around Adams, this is a beautiful place. But even the most sceptical are sure to feel a chill upon approaching the cave entrance where the legend of the Bell Witch endures.
This is the site where John Bell, a farmer, and his young family are said to have been terrorised in the 1800s. Bell later died in suspicious circumstances ‘ said to have been poisoned by the witch, who fled here to the cave, which has drawn the curious ever since. There’s no such thing as witches, right? You might be a cynic but with the haunting cave stretching some 150 metres into the dark, who knows what’s lurking inside.
Gomantong Caves, Malaysia
The Gomantong Cave complex might not appear to be too terrifying at first sight, with its wooden boardwalk beckoning visitors to Borneo from the tranquil tree-lined hills to its welcoming entrance. Once inside, however, it’s a different matter, with the caves’ residents presenting an unsettling spectacle.
There are the infamous bats, for one thing, with hundreds of thousands having made their homes in the dark depths of the Gomantong hills, making an exodus from the cave entrance en masse each night, a sight that sends a shiver down the spines of the unprepared. Then there are the cockroaches.
Their number is beyond calculation, but there are a lot and to see them scurrying along the limestone walls is enough to test the resolve of even the most courageous caver. With other unseen creatures lurking deep within, you’ll need to be brave to explore this intricate cave system to the fullest. Not too terrifying? You might think differently when you get here.
Tower of Silence, Mumbai, India
The Tower of Silence is a Dakhma, a religious and ancient place, boasting a past and purpose that could not be grizzlier.
It was here, in accordance with Zoroastrian beliefs, that bodies were arranged in great number, atop the circular raised structure that ensured contact with both earth and fire, as experienced in other methods of dealing with the dead, was avoided. This might not sound too bad. But consider the following.
The bodies arranged on this putrefaction plateau were left, beneath the beating sun, for the carrion birds, usually vultures, to pick the flesh from the slowly-disintegrating corpses. Known as excarnation, the bones, once ‘cleaned’, would, in time, drop through a hole in the tower’s centre and into a dark pit below. It’s a process that doesn’t bear thinking about in great detail and those curious enough to venture to these parts find the experience extremely eerie.
Some 2,700 people once lived in Centralia. In 1980, the population was 1,000; in 1990, 63. Just seven remained at the last count. The reason? The vast underground coal mine fire that has raged beneath the surface here since 1962.
Unable to extinguish the blaze, the authorities here have seen Centralia become a ghost town. For those passing through, it’s an eerie experience.
The fire started after an ill-fated attempt to incinerate a local landfill site, the flames soon spreading and causing an underground inferno that has burned out of control ever since. These days, it is believed to cover an area of 400 acres and, with smoke and steam billowing from the cracks that continue to open up on the surface, it is considered unsafe to spend time in these parts.
Those visiting are advised to avoid the ruptured roads and pavements and to be aware that deadly sinkholes, capable of swallowing everything up, are always a possibility. One best avoided, in our opinion.
Sichuan-Tibet Highway, China
Thinking about taking a road trip? The Sichuan-Tibet Highway makes for a journey with a difference. More than 2,000 km long and linking Chengdu and Lhasa, great skill, not to mention courage, is required to travel here, with the road winding over 14 high mountains, and landslides and rock avalanches all too common.
This is a place of dramatic hairpin bends and dreadful road surfaces, where the drops are vast, and wrecked and abandoned vehicles litter the landscape. Linking East and West, truck drivers risk their lives to reach the roof of the world, whilst less skilled motorists are often unable to continue and the jams and queues can stretch for mile upon mile.
Theft, harassment and even kidnapping are not uncommon, with bandits often lying in wait, making this a place to avoid. Thinking about taking a road trip? You might want to pick an alternative route.
The Lost World, Waitomo Caves, New Zealand
Descend into the Lost World, a 100-metre underground abseil, down into the depths, where strange creatures may lurk in dark corners. Those brave enough access the descent through a narrow crack in the surface, where on a private farm in rural New Zealand, an adventure like no other awaits.
The rope is thick and heavy, and great caution is required to ensure you don’t drop too quickly. Get to the bottom and you’ll discover a mysterious underground river. Look out for the eels, whilst in the dark caves that can be explored, glowworms await, providing much-needed light in the places the sun cannot reach.
And the challenge doesn’t end when you reach the bottom… To get back to the surface, you must tackle a long ladder that requires great nerve and no shortage of strength and stamina.
The Chapel of Bones, Portugal
This ghoulish sight in Portugal is a chapel covered and decorated with human bones and skulls that beckons those with an interest in all matters macabre.
Located in Evora and dating back to the 16th Century, the Chapel of Bones is believed to contain remains from more than 5,000 corpses, including the three Franciscan Monks who founded the Royal Church of St Francis here some 800 years ago. It’s an unsettling experience, with the skulls and the bones all around and even two desiccated corpses (one of them a child) displayed in a glass cabinet for those drawn to such things.
‘Better is the day of death than the day of birth’ is amongst the messages scrawled on the chapel ceiling, doing little to lighten the mood. Death hangs heavy in the air and visitors often get the sense that they’re being watched.
Lake Natron, Tanzania
Hellish in colour, with its deep red waters and caustic salt crust, Lake Natron is inhospitable in the extreme, hostile to life and not a place to take a relaxing dip.
Located in northern Tanzania, not far from the Kenyan border, this is a place that must be seen to be believed, but so unsettling is the atmosphere, visitors don’t tend to linger long in these parts. The area is an important breeding ground for lesser flamingos, but other creatures give it a wide berth. The waters here are warm – too warm for most – and with its ammonia-like qualities, this is a mineral-rich soda lake that doesn’t teem with life.
The flamingos aside, this is a dead and desolated place, where no-one wants to live, with the very air thick, chemical-laden and difficult to breathe. It’s a spectacular sight to see, for sure, but you won’t want to stick around here.
The Narrows, Longs Peak, Colorado
Those seeking adventure are drawn to Longs Peak, one of 53 fourteeners (mountain peak with an elevation of at least 14,000 feet) in Colorado, and the highest in Rocky Mountains National Park.
It’s a spectacular sight, impressive and imposing, and such is its appeal, those ill-equipped often take on a challenge that is far beyond their capabilities. From the bottom it appears accessible to all, a simple passage to the summit.
The most popular route up is called the Keyhole and, whilst this starts out as little more than a manageable hike, things get ever-more hazardous the higher up you get. The Narrows lives up to its name – it’s far from wide – and accidents and injuries are here commonplace. With a long drop down below, one wrong step could prove to be fatal. People do die here and no matter how easy it looks from the bottom, this is not a climb to underestimate.
The Destitute Cemetery City of Guatemala
There are fewer places scarier on Earth than here, where vultures circle. Lost souls are said to wander and death and decay are all around. It shouldn’t have been like this, as it was designed to be the final resting place for Guatemala’s elite, an exclusive burial ground where the rich and famous would lie and all would be at peace. Yet the earthquakes that devastated the local area in 1917 and 1918 put paid to that plan.
Some 8,000 bodies were shaken from their graves and, with authorities desperate to stop disease spreading, their corpses were burned in a giant bonfire. Since then, this is a place that has taken a darker turn, a cemetery in a dreadful state, where the destitute deposit passed relatives and space is at a premium.
With little room, bodies are stacked vertically, with those at the top becoming mummified due to the heat. Frightening in the extreme, this is a destination to avoid.
Canopy Walk, Ghana
Located deep in spectacular Kakum National Park, Ghana’s Canopy Walk offers visitors a unique perspective on the lush green jungle. Like to experience life at a level of the forest that is usually reserved for birds and monkeys? You can here, although you’ll need quite a head for heights.
More than 1,000 feet long and 130 feet above the forest floor below, this is an elevated walkway like no other, connecting seven giant tree tops and bringing visitors up close and personal with the creatures who call this beautiful place home.
The canopy walk provides stunning sights but great courage is required to take the first step, with a significant drop below and not a lot seeming to hold the whole thing up. If you are brave enough to venture out. Just remember to hold on tight, and don’t look down.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Kentucky
Some believe this Sanatorium to rank amongst the most haunted places on Earth and, whether you agree or not, there’s no doubt that time spent here can be an unnerving experience. First built in 1910 to house severely-ill tuberculosis patients from all over Kentucky, Waverly Hills closed its doors in the 1960s.
Various plans have been drawn up to redevelop the building over the years, with a prison and apartments both having been mooted, but such is the former hospital’s reputation, none have come to fruition and this remains an attraction for those with an interest in the macabre.
Those seeking supernatural activities find themselves drawn here and ghost tours are sometimes carried out, whilst overnight stays are possible from time to time for the most courageous. Like to check it out? Keep your wits about you and avoid the secret underground tunnel, used to take out the dead unseen when the so-called white plague was at its peak.
Lake Shawnee Amusement Park, West Virginia
There’s something unnerving about abandoned amusement parks. This one, found in rural West Virginia, takes the biscuit in no uncertain terms. For one thing, it was built in the 1920s on an ancient Indian burial ground. For another, a massacre is said to have taken place right here, with Native Americans believed to have slaughtered a family of unfortunate settlers who had chosen the spot to make their home.
From that point on, Lake Shawnee has been a cursed location. For a short time, a popular and successful attraction, the park closed its doors in the 1960s following a series of unsettling incidents, with two children having died here in unrelated occurrences.
Since then, it has fallen into a state of disrepair, with vines having wrapped themselves around the rusting rides and the surrounding forest beginning to reclaim the land. Unnerving in the extreme, this is no place to visit alone; take our word for it.
Q’eswachaka Rope Bridge, Peru
Q’eswachaka Rope Bridge is handwoven from grass and stretches out across the awe-inspiring Apurimac Canyon in deepest Peru. This is a traditional Incan bridge, once common in these parts, but few remain these days having decayed and disappeared from the landscape, a fact that does little to ease the nerves of those considering a crossing.
Q’eswachaka spans 188 feet over the sprawling canyon, whilst 60 feet below, the Apurimac River rushes along. Still thinking about heading across? You’d be wise to avoid looking down. Handwoven bridges such as this have existed in these parts for more than 500 years and the locals here don’t see what the fuss is all about.
For those unable to stomach it, there are more modern and robust crossing points not too far from here and if you do decide not to risk it, no-one will judge you.
The Sanctuary of Tophet, Tunisia
This Tunisian sanctuary is an ancient burial ground not far from Tunis, where unsettling discoveries have been made and distressing secrets uncovered. Indeed long, long ago, the Carthaginians are believed to have sacrificed their young here in order to give thanks to the gods. More than 20,000 urns, each stuffed with ashes and human remains, are amongst the artifacts that have been dug up. Such things can make for an uncomfortable visit.
Once spanning 64,000 square feet, and housed over nine levels, this is a place of great historical significance, but the events that once took place here cannot be overlooked or ignored.
Children and animals are thought to have been sacrificed here on a regular basis over several centuries, and even now, long after the event, death hangs heavy in the air. It is, needless to say, all rather creepy.
Monte Cristo Homestead, Australia
Image: Bidgee, Wikimedia Commons
Perched on a hilltop overlooking the town of Junee in New South Wales, Monte Cristo has long been considered Australia’s most haunted house. You might not believe in the supernatural, but a visit here is sure to test such scepticism. Creepy, unsettling and not a place to enter alone, there’s far more to this historic property than first meets the eye.
Dating back to 1885, several gruesome deaths are said to have occurred here, whilst the ghosts of the former owners, Christopher and Elizabeth Crawley, are believed to haunt the house.
Footsteps on the stairs, whispering voices and the feeling of a hand on the shoulder are reported to have happened here. Do you feel brave enough to cross the threshold? If you’re scared of all things inexplicable and ghostly, it might be wise to keep your distance.
Titlis Cliff Walk, Switzerland
You don’t like heights? The Titlis Cliff Walk might be one to avoid, with even those accustomed to altitude finding this an experience that calls for great courage.
Europe’s highest suspension bridge is a spectacular sight, but setting foot onto the narrow platform requires nerves of steel and a cast-iron constitution. Found high in the Swiss Alps, atop Mount Titlis and accessed via beautiful Engelberg down below, this 100-metre long bridge is built 3,041 metres above sea level.
Hanging from steel cables some 500 metres above the ground, the views from here are stunning with the Uri Alps and neighbouring Italy both visible on clear days. But you’ll need to be brave to experience them in full. Closed during bad weather, the Cliff Walk has been described as ‘the world’s scariest bridge’. Who are we to disagree?
Catacombs, Paris, France
Public health problems in Paris, linked to the city’s crowded cemeteries, prompted French officials to take drastic action in the late Eighteenth Century and transfer their long-buried contents to an underground site beneath the Plain of Montrouge.
No-one imagined at the time that, one day, people would wish to come and visit such a macabre place. Welcome to the Paris Catacombs, a vast underground ossuary, 20 metres beneath the surface and home to the remains of more than six million people.
The first were moved here from the Saints-Innocents Cemetery, Paris’ largest, in 1785, and since 1809, when the Catacombs were opened to the public, this place has held a strange appeal to those drawn to dark things. The skulls and corpses are everywhere, with the 11,000 square-metre space bursting with bones.
Holy Land USA, Connecticut
Located in Waterbury, Connecticut, Holy Land is an unsettling place. Dating back to the 1950s, this was once a thriving amusement park that, unusually, had a devout religious theme. Nowadays the site is abandoned, having fallen into a state of disrepair, and with the crumbling artifacts all around, a strange atmosphere exists that keeps all but the most curious at bay.
Towering over all is 56-foot steel cross, but with the miniature Bethlehem weed-strewn and the Garden of Eden overgrown and graffiti-scarred, the appeal that attracted 50,000 visitors a year in the 1960s has long since faded.
Trespassing signs are everywhere, but there are still those who are drawn to see the forgotten Bible-themed dioramas. Not many, it’s true, and even fewer since 2010, when a teenage girl was found murdered here. There’s little holy about this land these days and if you are tempted to take a peak, you’ve been warned you might not return.
U Bein Bridge, Myanmar
Stretching three-quarters-of-a-mile over Taungthaman Lake, close to Amarapura, Myanmar, the U Bein Bridge is a sight to behold. Constructed in 1850 using the remains of a ruined royal palace, this is the oldest teak bridge on Earth. It’s also one of the most rickety.
Tourists flock here in great numbers, with souvenir sellers often in hot pursuit, and with so many people crossing the ancient bridge on a daily basis, there are genuine fears for its continued existence. More than 1,000 wooden pillars hold the walkway up, but with many posts decaying and becoming detached from the main structure, the bridge appears to be growing ever more treacherous.
Still the crowds come, but as U Bein becomes more and more unstable, the experience is growing ever more terrifying, making it a preserve of the most courageous, with the lake’s deep waters awaiting below.
Hotel Cecil, Los Angeles, California
Opened in 1927 to great fanfare, The Cecil was once the place to be seen. Costing $1m to complete and boasting an opulent marble lobby, stained glass windows and all mod cons, this hotel was a grand destination.
Fashionable in the 1940s, things began to go wrong as Los Angeles’ social problems started to grow, its unfortunate location close to the area that became known as Skid Row prompting a reputation that has ever since been impossible to shake. The Cecil is now renowned for violence and even murder, whilst a serial killer known as the ‘Night Stalker’ is rumoured to have made this his base during his spree in the 1980s.
There is hope that recent renovation and redevelopment can lead to a brighter future and repaired reputation, but with his sketchy past and threats perceived, The Cecil isn’t high on everyone’s list of places to stay in LA. If you still fancy spending the night, we advise you to watch ‘The vanishing at the Cecil hotel’ on Netflix before you book. You’ll learn about Elisa Lam, a tourist who was recently found dead in the water tanks on the Hotel’s rooftop.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland
Linking the mainland with the tiny island of Carrick-a-Rede, there has been a rope bridge here for over 350 years, first strung up by enterprising salmon fishermen, and beckoning the courageous and curious ever since.
The bridge here now is not the original one, of course, dating back to 2000, but although the previous structure was far more frightening, with just one hand rail to grip and large gaps between the slats.
The landscape here in County Antrim is stunning, although those crossing the 20-metre span, some 30 metres above the sharp rocks below, don’t tend to look around too much until safe across and back on solid land. It might be a good idea not to look down, and do just remember, once across, you still have to get back to the other side.
Kenmore Insane Asylum, Australia
Kenmore is said to rank amongst Australia’s most haunted places. Desolated since being decommissioned, this former psychiatric hospital is in private hands these days, but although the site seems ripe for development, its dark past makes matters more complicated.
This is a place plagued by death, with countless patients having passed here and murders having been committed. The most violent and uncontrollable were kept locked up and fingernail scratches can still be seen on some of the doors.
Disturbing, haunting and no place for the faint of heart. Opened in 1895, up to 1,400 mentally-ill patients were housed here at Kenmore’s peak and for all its historic and social significance, it’s a place best avoided. Not far from here is an abandoned orphanage, which is just as distressing and haunting.
Capilano Suspension Bridge, Canada
Don’t like heights? Don’t look down. The Cliffwalk at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park ranks amongst Vancouver’s top attractions, but it’s not one for the faint of heart. Opened in 2011, courageous visitors head here for unbeatable views, but it comes at a cost, with a great test of nerve required in order to see the spectacular sights.
Cantilevered and suspended walkways jut out from the rugged granite cliff face, while innumerable trees and the beautiful Capilano River can be seen down below. It’s high and it’s narrow, and in some parts the walkway is made of glass, making for a truly terrifying passage through the rainforest vegetation.
It’s safe, of course, with a weight limit of 45 tonnes, the equivalent of 35 adult killer whales. Such statistics don’t make it any less scary, though, and this is an experience guaranteed to put your courage to the ultimate test.
Riddle House, Palm Beach, Florida
There’s no such thing as ghosts. Right? Head to Riddle House and you might find yourself questioning such an assertion.
Regarded as one of the most haunted places in the United States, this Edwardian dwelling once stood beside Woodlawn Cemetery, in West Palm Beach, where it housed workers, helped guard against grave robbers and served as a funeral parlour. Due to be demolished, it was moved in the 1990s to a local theme park, Yesteryear Village. It seems the ghosts relocated too.
One grave digger, believed to have had dire financial troubles, is said to have committed suicide in the attic and, to this day, he haunts Riddle House. Visitors report hearing dragging chains and murmuring voices, whilst paranormal enthusiasts head here in great number in the hope of catching a glimpse.
The Great Blue Hole, Belize
‘Great’ doesn’t quite do this justice given its immense scale, a vast marine sinkhole that measures more than 300 metres from side to side and plunges deep down into the darkest reaches of the ocean, more than 125 metres from top to bottom, with mysteries galore to be explored and discovered in its depths.
Ever popular with divers and underwater adventurers, this is no place for the faint of heart, being riddled with caves and caverns, with haunting stalactites and stalagmites, and creatures ‘ their number including sharks ‘ lurking in every corner.
Located in the centre of Lighthouse Reef, a spectacular atoll that lies some 43 miles off the coast of Belize, The Great Blue Hole has long called to those keen to uncover its secrets. But as explorers galore have discovered, once beneath the surface, descending into the hole is not something to undertake lightly.
Half Dome Cable Route, Yosemite National Park, California
Towering high over spectacular Yosemite National Park, Half Dome has long beckoned the adventurous. This is a challenge that was once considered beyond human capabilities, with a report in 1865 describing the 5,000-foot summit as ‘perfectly impassible’ and predicting that Half Dome’s highest point would ‘never be trodden by human foot’.
Yet the first successful expedition took place just 10 years later – and climbers and hikers have been drawn here ever since. It’s an arduous undertaking, a 16-mile round trip that takes at least 12 hours, with the final 400-feet of the climb requiring the assistance of cables.
This last part is daunting and accidents are not uncommon, with park rangers often required to rescue the unprepared. Planning to tackle Half Dome? Take our advice, leave at sunrise, don’t rush or take risks and be sure to treat it with the utmost respect.
West Coast Trail, Vancouver, Canada
The West Coast Trail is beautiful, a spectacular setting on Vancouver Island that beckons hikers keen to get back to nature. When the sun shines here it’s a sight to behold, but this is a trail that harbours a dark past.
First established in 1907, the trail was formed in order to facilitate the rescue of shipwreck survivors, with the waters around the island’s southwestern edge hazardous in the extreme and responsible for countless lost lives. With its fearsome reefs and breakers, this is known as the Graveyard of the Pacific and, with wrecks in their thousands, this is, for all its natural beauty, a place of death, despair and destruction.
The fortunate ones were dragged from the ocean and led, along the trail, to safety. But not all were so lucky, making this a haunting location and one that can unnerve even the most courageous.