All Hallows Eve is a celebration observed in a number of places around the world, a Christianised festival of a pagan Celtic harvest rite, or Samhain. Originally a celebration to remember the dead, including saints and matyrs, these days Halloween is a far more commercialised and secular affair. People in costumes party, children go trick-or-treating and devllish jack-o-lanterns grin from front porches the world over. In honour of Halloween, here are some of 6 spookiest places on earth – I’d suggest visiting in a group and preferably in daylight!
1. Paris, France
Rarely do the catacombs of Paris make any list of must-visit sites in Paris, but for those looking for a little frisson, the catacombs are an excellent attraction. Unknown to many, beneath the streets of Paris is a complex system of tunnels built from the bones of around 6 million dead Parisians. The catacombs are in essence an ossuary, a labyrinth with walls lined by staring skulls. The tunnels themselves are so vast and complex that it was only ten year ago that the police found a secret movie theatre and bar operating underground! Don’t get lost down there…
2. Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh is an atmospheric, hauntingly beautiful medieval city. With cobblestoned streets, dramatic skies and a bloody, violent history, here in this city, only a few inches separate the living from the dead. Start your exploration in Old Town, and visit the echoing chambers underneath South Bridge, Greyfriars Kirkyard and Edinburgh Dungeon. There are plenty of ghostly tours like the Auld Reekie Tours, City of the Dead and Real Mary Kings Close tours – nerves of steel are mandatory!
3. New Orleans, USA
Here in New Orleans, the buried dead outtnumber the living 10-to-1. Given the odds, it’s no wonder the city is a hot spot of scary spooks, earning it’s title “The Most Haunted City in America.” Ghosts of New Orleans’ colourful past are still believed to haunt many of the old buildings in the French Quarter and Garden District. There’s also the fact that New Orleans has recorded the highest number of missing-persons cases since those statistics began being tracked. There are a few stand out locations to visit in New Orleans if you’re looking for the supernatural. The first is the Andrew Jackson hotel, supposedly haunted by the ghosts of five boarding school boys who were killed in a fire here. The Andrew Jackson is not the only hotel peopled by ghosts – guests staying at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, which used to be a former convent, also report strange and mysterious happenings. The scariest of them all? The LaLaurie House, home of a rich socialite in the 18th century who was also a torturer and serial murderess.
4. Hoia Forest, Transylvania
Okay, first off, this place is in Transylvania, home of Vlad the Impaler, a historic figure, and Dracula, a fictitious character invented by Bram Stoker. Neither really inspire confidence. The Hoia Forest, however, is not part of the vampire myths, but more as a site for paranormal activities such as UFO sightings and mysterious disappearances. The forest itself is odd, with strangely shaped plants, trees all bent the same way and areas where nothing at all seems to grow. The braver amongst us who have ventured into Hoia Forest have reported sudden panic attacks, severe headaches, nausea and sometimes mysterious scratches. They’ve also reported hearing strange sounds like people crying and giggling.
5. Humberstone and La Noria, Chile
Abandoned in the 1960s, the twin towns of Humberstone and La Noria were initially prosperous mining towns. The conditions of the mines apparently bordered on the barbaric, gruesome and slave-like conditions. With the towns now abandoned, it is said that the dead of La Noria’s cemetery rise in the night, and the open graves seem to give credence to this wild speculation. Photographs taken in Humberstone also frequently show inexplicable ghostly images. The rumour is, the former residents never left, and can still be seen walking around, but no one knows if they are living or dead. The residents of nearby towns don’t even mention the names of these two places – just to be on the safe side.
6. Island of the dolls, Mexico
What does it take to make one very spooky island? Just one man, hundreds of dolls and a few decades. La Isla de le Munecas, or the Island of the Dolls, is a doll-infested island located in the middle of Teshuilo Lake, Mexico that became this way due to the work of one man – Don Julian Santana Barrera. He reportedly came across the ghost of a young girl who drowned in the lake, and started hanging up dolls in the trees for her. This obsession lasted half a century, with Barrera hanging up every doll he could scavenge and scrounge as a tribute to the dead girl. Half decomposed dolls with missing eyes, arms and legs now drape almost every bit of the island. The really spooky bit? Barrera was found drowned in the same spot where he had believed the young girl had died.