October is here and once again the world is buzzing with people trading ghost stories and creepy tales to keep each other up at night. You know the kind, the tales you laugh about at first, but days or even weeks later a thought inches its way into your skull “What if. . . .”
Real or not, imagination or something else, scary stories are a thrill and there are none better than those told about real places. Haunted houses, castles, forests, churches, playgrounds, they’re all just a little easier to believe right around Halloween. So what are the best hot spots? A quick Google search will probably lead you to local tales, or a real hot spot of reported activity just a few hours’ drive from where you sit. There’s no real rating system, ghosts aren’t real . . . Right? Just in case, here are 9 spooky locations you might want to avoid!
Aokigahara, Mount Fuji, Japan – Maybe you saw the movie, but the real Aokigahara is too beautiful, majestic, and yes creepy to be portrayed by any film. This swath of 13.5 miles of dense trees and even denser undergrowth sits beneath Mt. Fuji, and even without knowing its history, just a glance is sure to take your breath away.
Local legend and popular tourist tales tell a different story of people coming to this sea of trees with the intention of committing suicide. The stories have spread and more and more people flock to this forest to see what it’s all about, fewer come out. Rumor has it, you can catch glimpses of the people who chose to spend their last moments here, and it’s certainly easy to see how you can feel like there’s something or someone else with you when you’re standing in the middle of this much overgrown nature.
Beechwood Lunatic Asylum, Victoria, Australia – originally known as Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum, this complex of more than 60 buildings housed the mentally ill for 128 years before closing its doors in 1995. Like most asylums, Beechwood has a long and complex history that leaves a lot of people with more questions than they started with.
Visitors have reported seeing a figure of a man who shows up near the cellar only to completely vanish once you’re almost sure he’s there. Other tales include the usual bumps, scrapes, and noises you can never quite explain, and aren’t really sure you want to. With such a long history and sprawling landscape it doesn’t take much imagination to understand how anyone could get lost, overwhelmed, and scared out of their minds.
Paris Catacombs, Paris, France – If ghosts have rules they certainly include something about graveyards. No resting place is quite as ominous and vast as the Catacombs of Paris. These underground ossuaries were made out of the skeletons of collapsing mines in Paris and house the remains of over six million people.
Since the early 19th century, people have been coming to look at this underground wonder. Some to pay their respects, some to seek answers to questions on death, and more still to see if they can find something to make them question what they know of the world. Whatever draws you there, make sure you go on a guided tour. Not all of the tunnels have been mapped, and even experienced tour guides have to be extra careful to not get turned around and wind up lost forever.
Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town, South Africa – Built in the 17th century, this Dutch East India Company fort is the oldest existing colonial building in South Africa, and it’s now considered the best-preserved building of its kind. Like most colonial buildings, the structure wasn’t popular when it was raised and it hardly got more popular as the surrounding people were oppressed.
With so many bad feelings and spilled blood drenching the history of this building, it’s understandable that many people feel instantly uneasy as they tour the grounds. Reports even include testimonials of those who see vicious dogs jump at people (although no dogs are kept on the grounds), and men marching around that seem to appear and disappear into nowhere.
Eastern State Penitentiary, Pennsylvania, United States – This former American prison operated from 1829 until 1971. The wagon wheel design and all of the building’s features were built to minimize privacy, maximize security, and ensure that prisoners never forgot that they were in a place meant to make them to pay for their crimes.
The history of the prison is long and sordid, with tales of misconduct from both the jailors and the prisoners. Many people have reported seeing ghosts of inmates that died, doors closing or opening on their own, having their hair pulled by invisible people, and more. The building tours do little to discourage these rumors, embracing its spooky status and offering haunted tours around Halloween.
Poveglia Island, Italy – This is a small island that has been used as a dumping ground for centuries. But rather than trash, it was unwanted people that were abandoned. In the 1300’s, the sick, dying, or dead were brought here to keep them away from people who were healthy.
In the 1800’s, the island was repurposed as a place to care for the mentally ill, and it is rumored that in the 1930’s a doctor was performing weird experiments on the patients there. After a brief stint as a geriatric center during the middle 20th century, the facility and the island were abandoned entirely. Tourists and locals were banned from visiting the place, and recent attempts to try to revive the hospital building were abandoned. No one knows why.
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland – This historic fortress leaves a lasting impression on everyone who visits. The building has been standing since at least the Iron Age (2nd century AD) and while the nature of the early settlement is unclear, there is no question that the people who built it were impressively skilled.
The castle has been used, if not as housing for lords, then as a barracks for soldiers, and the history it has built up is impressive. Used to house prisoners during the Seven Years War, the American Revolutionary War, and others, it is clear that this larger than life structure has seen every side of humanity. Visitors report feeling threatened, seeing shadowy figures, drops in temperature, and even something touching them. Maybe they just read too much about what happened here or didn’t see a small hole that let in a draft. Maybe they ran into a spider web. Or maybe, just maybe, they ran into something else.
Old Changi Hospital, Changi, Singapore – This hospital was built in 1935 by the British and doubled as barracks. During WWII the facility was overtaken and captured by the Japanese. They went on to use Changi Hospital as a prison camp where they carried on intense questioning of prisoners, even brutal torture.
It seems the screams of these people never managed to escape the walls, as it’s one of the many things visitors report experiencing, along with sightings of bloody soldiers, phantom smells, and crying. With erratic electricity and various other weird events, it’s no wonder many feel uncomfortable entering the building.
Banff Springs Hotel, Alberta, Canada – This hotel was built over 125 years ago by the Canadian Pacific Railway as a place to entice travelers and help visitors indulge in a taste of luxury. Behind its picturesque landscape and furnishings, though, lies a not-so-pristine history.
A favorite story told by locals is the tale of room 873, where it is said that a family was murdered. The stories of this room grew quickly. Visitors to the room after the supposed murder reported screams, bloody handprints, and more. Eventually, the hotel staff decided it was best to get rid of the room completely and they sealed it off, finishing the brick with drywall to make it – almost – disappear into the rest of the hallway.
The hotel is still functional today, but the staff won’t tell you anything about room 873. However, many visitors still report seeing the family and other mysterious things in the hall.
Whether you’re looking for a spooky story to tell this Halloween, or you’re interested in a very scary vacation, all these places fit the bill, and have great tourist locations around if you decide to take the family. Whichever you pick you are sure to have a terrifyingly good time or at least a story that will send a chill down someone’s spine! If you know of a local haunt that didn’t make the cut, tell us about it in the comments below.