People have different interests, and it’s not surprising that they select their trip destinations, at least in part, to reflect those interests. Whether it’s history, food, nature or culture, there’s a whole world out there for you. In this post, we decided to look at a more specific type of holiday-seeker: the dark tourist. With that in mind, read on for the top 5 spookiest destinations on Earth!
Any who have been there will know, but Edinburgh is a fantastic city. With its Old Town’s mix of medieval and neo-classical architecture, its castle, pubs, and proximity to the Highlands, the Scottish capital is a destination that should be on just about everyone’s list. But there’s a darker side to the Scottish capital that anyone who visits it for any reasonable length of time cannot help but observe.
Particularly as the autumn draws on, and the nights begin to lengthen, the narrow wynds and closes adopt a more eerie atmosphere. A walk past one of its many cemeteries might transport you back to the 19th century, when body snatchers disturbed the rest of many a recently interred corpse to fuel the keen demand for cadavers – the city was one of the leading European centres of anatomical study at the time. Throw into that a history of war, plague and murder, it’s no surprise that Edinburgh is considered one of the most haunted cities in Europe (and, for that matter, the world).
Pripyat was founded on February 4th, 1970, as the ninth nuclear city of the Soviet Union; and as such was presented as one of the crowning achievements of Soviet engineering. This veneer did not survive after the 26th of April, 1986; when an explosion in the reactor of the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant resulted in 30 deaths and the evacuation of Pripyat itself the following day.
Today, Pripyat is a ghost town. The site has been deemed safe by local tourism companies, though visitors are screened before entering the exclusion zone and upon leaving, and are instructed not to sit down or touch anything. The Ukrainian authorities have, in contrast, declared that the site will remain uninhabitable for another 20,000 years. Should you deem the visit worth the risk you will find yourself within a microcosm of a different time; an uncanny relic, with only the empty shells of a society remaining to remind you of how close humanity came to self-annihilation.
To this day, many people still believe that it is fictional, such is the power of the myths and stories surrounding it; but Transylvania is very much a real place, and one well worth a visit at that. Located on the eastern slopes of the Carpathian mountains in present-day Romania, the region was home to Vlad Dracula, or Vlad the Impaler. Perhaps its most famous son. The name sound familiar? His real-life exploits, coupled with local superstitions and folklore, inspired Bram Stoker’s 1897 Dracula.
Certainly, vampire fever is a phenomenon that has been more and more capitalized on by the Romanian tourism authorities. But with a haunting countryside (particularly in autumn) described as the ‘last truly medieval landscape in Europe’, a visit to this remote eastern corner of the continent may well feel like a trip back in time into the world of Stoker’s vampire novel.
Bhangarh Fort, India
While the stories differ as to why, everyone does seem to agree on this: Bhangarh Fortress is the most haunted place in India. Constructed in the 17th century during the days of the Mughal Empire, Bhangarh Fort was built by the Raja of Amer, Bhagwant Das, for his younger son Madho Singh.
Bhangarh Fort is a popular tourist destination; and although visitors are welcome during the day, the Archaeological Survey of India prohibits locals and tourists alike from entering the site at night. Some of the reason behind this may be due to the fort’s near proximity to the Sariska Tiger Reserve, but it is by no means solely that. Many visitors have observed a negative feeling on entering the fortress and, as a result of the supernatural happenings, no villages remain nearby.
Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital, South Korea
Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital is considered one of South Korea’s most haunted places. Certainly, the place looks spooky enough. The building and grounds were even the location for a horror movie (Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum) that came out earlier this year.
Differing accounts exist as to what went on at Gonjiam. While colourful legends abound with stories of a mad doctor and murderous patients, the official reason for the sudden closure of the facility in the 1990s is attributed to a combination of lack of funding, issues with the sewage disposal system and unsanitary conditions.
Whichever account you decide to believe, there’s little doubt that the dilapidated asylum has seen a fair amount of pain, discomfort and torment in its lifetime. Reason enough for a haunting? Maybe. Reason enough to avoid getting stuck there after dark? Definitely.
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