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  • Writer's pictureDorina

13 Terrifying Destinations Not For The Faint of Heart

In Part Two of our three-part Halloween blog series, we leave the land of stories rooted in reality and take a step into a world surrounded by folklore, danger, bloody histories and ghostly apparitions. While not all destinations are places open to the public, all have drawn public fascination for their marred past. Read on if you dare.

Poveglia Island, Italy

Located a little over an hour outside of Venice, Italy, Poveglia is an Island with a lot of folklore surrounding it. Once inhabited until residents fled warfare in 1379, the abandoned island became home to a quarantine station for those suffering the plague and waiting to die as early as 1776. Eventually the quarantine station was replaced with a mental hospital that didn’t close until 1968. Tales of torture and inhumane experiments accompany the history of the hospital. Once again it stands abandoned and some claim that over 50% of the soil is composed of human ash. It is said that there are over 100,000 victims of the plague and the hospital buried here and that bones still wash up on shore. It’s illegal to visit, though that doesn’t stop some thrill seekers.

Click here to see a folder of photos on flickr. Nothing inappropriate or scary here, just photos of the abandoned building.

The Queen Mary, Long Beach, California

Visiting California and find you’ve had just a bit too much Disney? Consider heading to Long Beach and spending a night on the Queen Mary. Sailing from 1936 until 1967, The Queen Mary began as a grand vessel, carrying the likes of the Queen Mother, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Laurel and Hardy and even Churchill. During WWII, the ship was re-purposed to transport troops and prisoners of war and Churchill believes her participation in the war shortened the duration by a year. There are said to be several ghosts, including a little girl named Jackie who haunts the pool and an engineer crushed to death by a door in 1966. The ship is now docked and is an attraction that is hotel, restaurant and hosts a variety of tours, including Paranormal Investigations. If you watch Ryan and Shane's Unsolved, this is also the location that started Ryan on an exploration into the paranormal, after watching is tooth paste move. Below is the full 20 minute episode, but if you skip to the 4 minute mark, you'll see footage of the alleged ghostly oral hygiene encounter.

Lizzie Borden House, Fall River, Massachusetts

If you find yourself in the New England Countryside and looking for a place to stay for the night, why not consider the Lizzie Bordon Bed and Breakfast? One can rent individual rooms per night, or gather 20 of your closest and dearest and rent the entire house for the evening. Plus, free WiFi! Facebook Live your ghostly encounter in the house at the epicenter of one of American’s most notorious unsolved crimes!

Tower of London, UK

Set in the middle of London you’ll find this castle with a sorted history. Founded around 1078, the castle was built by William the Conqueror and was a symbol of oppression for the people of London. It served as a prison from 1100 to 1952, though has also served as an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie (including a Polar Bear allowed to swim and hunt for fish in the Thames), the Royal Mint, public records office and the home of the Crown Jewels. Ghosts include Edward V and Richard, two princes declared illegitimate and whose bodies were found in a staircase and Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Lady Jane Grey, all three beheaded on Tower Green.

Never before in the history of photos has someone been so uninterested in taking a photo with me. Tower of London, 2008.

Dracula’s Castle, Romania

Built by medieval Saxons in the 14th Century, Bran Castle has become a bit of a legend, albeit oddly so. When Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, it is said that he used descriptions of Bran Castle as inspiration for Dracula’s Castle – even though Stoker never actually visited Romania. However, of more notoriety, Vlad the Impaler, who Dracula is loosely based on (plus some local folklore) was captured and locked in Bran Castle for two months. Guests can visit the castle daily (there appear to be no black out dates), but if you want to party in Dracula’s Castle for Halloween, you might be one of the lucky few to get a ticket. And if you’re really into Romanian Castles, consider Corvin Castle, one of the largest castles in Europe and home to many paranormal legends.

Paris Catacombs, Paris

When you’re walking the streets of Paris, it’s rather easy to forget that below your feet are the bones of over six million people. During the 18th Century, the cemeteries of Paris were running out space. Some bodies weren’t buried properly and some were believed to be spreading disease. Officials closed the cemeteries and moved the remains to the city’s underground tunnels. It’s believed the project took over 30 years to complete. During WWII, the miles of underground tunnels (over 300km of them) were used by both the French Resistance and the Nazis. Today, the catacombs have a bit of a cult following, folks known as cataphiles, many of whom are building communities around an interest and respect for the catacombs. Guests who wish to visit will have to descend 130 steps into the catacombs and tickets are restricted so only 200 people may be inside at any given time.

Hoia Baciu Forest, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Whether you want to call it the world’s most haunted forest or the Bermuda triangle of Romania, you know you’re in for a spooky visit. Visitors have reported ghost sightings, unexplained apparitions or activities, faces in photographs not present when the photo was taken and UFO sightings. Visitors have also reported intense feelings including anxiety or the feeling of being watched. Local vegetation is also bizarre. Locals are afraid to enter and many believe if they do, they won’t return. For those that do enter, they have come with a list of physical ailments including burns, nausea or scratches. The forest also features a biking park and areas for paintball, airsoft and archery, so, it seems to be a full service haunted forest.

The Island of the Dolls, Mexico

The truth behind the legend is that the island, south of Mexico City in the canals of Xochimico, is the site of a mysterious drowning of a little girl. The island caretaker found her and was unable to save her life. Shortly after, he saw a doll floating in the canals. He retrieved it and hung it in a tree as a way of showing respect for the spirit of the girl. The legend continues that the caretaker was haunted by the spirit of the girl, so hung more dolls and that now, the spirits of dead girls possess the dolls on the island. 50 years later, the caretaker was found, having drowned in the same spot as the little girl. Tourists can visit. And if the dolls don’t creep you out, the spiders just might.

Hashima Island, Japan

15 kilometers from the city of Nagasaki, one will find Hashima Island, one of 505 uninhabited islands in the area. While the abandonment of the Island in 1974 was largely due to rapid industrialism that basically collapsed upon itself, the island maintains an eerie vibe as the abandoned concrete buildings remain. In 2009 the Island was opened for tourists, though a reported 95% is off limits.

Salem, Massachusetts

Home to the deadliest witch hunt in US History, Salem as a sorted past, one in which over 200 people were accused of witchcraft during a 15 month time span. It began when two young girls started having violent contortions and uncontrollable bouts of screaming. While modern science has explained it as a toxic fungus causing the issues, the diagnosis at the time was bewitchment as other girls in the community began to experience similar symptoms. This only fueled a hysterical fear and anxiety that led to the trials. The History Channel claims the trials were really about fearing the independence of women. Today, Salem has recognized their history and embraced it. You’ll find a culture around witchcraft, tarot, the paranormal, and even film tours that will appeal to folks with an interest in the supernatural.

Snake Island, Brazil

Is it haunted? No. Is it creepy? Kinda. Is it one of the most dangerous places in the world one would ever consider stepping foot? You bet your compromised internal system. Which is why the only people allowed legally on the island are scientists and the Coast Guard, though the black trade market does have illegal visitors setting foot on the island. But you don’t want to. The island is the only home of the critically endangered Golden Lancehead Pit Viper. Some estimates put one snake every square meter. The venom can cause swelling, pain, nausea and vomiting, blood blisters, bruising, intestinal bleeding, kidney failure, hemorrhage in the brain and severe necrosis of muscle tissue. Death is a very real threat, and can occur within an hour. Coast Guards visit the island about once a year to replace the light in the unmanned light house.

The Hanging Coffins of Sagada, Philippines

Deep in the Mountain Province you’ll find the village of Sagada. While traditional burials have decreased over the years, you’ll still find coffins ranging in age all the way up to 500 years old – over 200 of them. Spiritually, placing the coffins vertically in the sides of cliffs was a symbol of them being closer to their ancestral spirits, though practically, it was to keep the bodies safe from animals and enemy invaders. The dead are placed in the coffins in the fetal position, with belief that a person should depart the same way they entered the world. The community celebrates the life of the person with butchering pigs and chickens, in very specific groupings. The body is tied to a chair and covered with a blanket. It is then smoked to slow decomposition. Vigil is held for several days and at the end, the corpse is removed from the chair and placed in the coffin and buried in the cliff. However, this tradition is slowly ending as younger generations prefer modern ways of burial and the ability to visit their deceased loved ones easily.

Leap Castle, Ireland

It’s unknown exactly when the castle was built, though many accounts believe around 1250 CE. Today, it is one of the most haunted locations in Ireland. Located in central Ireland, due west of Portlaoise, Leap Castle is said to be the home of many massacres. Ownership of the castle for a long time was often up for bloody debate, many of it due to the O’Carroll clan. One story is that the McMahon family were victorious over an O’Carroll rival clan and were invited to the castle for a celebratory feast – only to find themselves served poison. The most notorious spirit is the red lady. Her story is quite dark – imprisoned and raped, she gave birth to a baby who the O’Carroll’s murdered. Overwhelmed by grief, she ended her own life. Many skeletons were discovered behind a wall in the chapel where an oubliette with wooden spikes hid. Today the castle is privately owned by Sean Ryan and his family.

Many mysterious accidents have happened since they took ownership in 1991. While guests are not allowed to stay the night, Ryan is known to open the doors to visitors and sometimes, even grants private tours, sharing the castle's history and his own encounters with his spirited roommates.

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