Be it terrifying tales of drowned girls, murder victims or creepy nuns, spooky stories are surprisingly appealing to thrill-seeking tourists. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, here’s a rundown of 11 cursed sites that will spook even the most fearless of travellers.
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Many people believe that Edinburgh, with its particularly violent history, is the most haunted place on earth. The city’s castle has always been a focal point for alleged paranormal activity. Visitors have reported many strange experiences and sightings, a powerful grabbing or pushing feeling being the most common. Others have seen ghostly figures or felt a sudden and consuming sadness.
Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK +44 131 225 9846
The Ancient Ram Inn, England
Built in 1145, this former bed and breakfast is believed to house dozens of ghosts. Rumoured to have been built on the site of an ancient pagan burial ground, the owner John Humphries says that he was violently pulled from his bed by a mysterious presence in 1968. Humphries also discovered two child skeletons hidden under the staircase.
The Ancient Ram Inn, 8 Potters Pond, Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, UK
Corvin Castle, Romania
The region of Transylvania in central Romania is without doubt one of the spookiest places on earth. Commonly associated with Dracula, the area was once ruled by Vlad the Impaler – the real-life bloodthirsty tyrant who inspired the vampire legends. Once held as a prisoner at Corvin Castle, Vlad has been sighted many times in the building, along with other terrifying vampire-like entities.
Corvin Castle, Strada Castelului 1-3, Hunedoara, Romania +40 786 048 718
Convent of St Agnes, Czech Republic
Prague has long been linked to black magic and alchemy and the city’s spookiest spot is undoubtedly the Convent of St Agnes. Founded in 1231, the creepy convent is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of a murdered nun who wanders the building with her face dripping blood.
Achill Island, Republic of Ireland
The Irish isle contains around 100 abandoned stone cottages and is reportedly populated by a vast number of ghosts. Agricultural workers once lived in the abandoned buildings during the summer months but the Great Famine of the 1840s triggered a mass exodus from the area.
Akershus Festning, Norway
The fortress known as Akershus Festning served as a defensive stronghold for the city of Oslo in the thirteenth century. Since that date the building has been used as a prison, a palace and a base for the Germans in World War II. The castle is said to be haunted by numerous ghosts, the most famous of which is a demon dog called Malcanisen. The dog reportedly roams near the gates of the castle. Anyone who sees it is sentenced to a painful death within the next three months.
Akershus Festning, Oslo, Norway +47 2309 3917
Lawang Sewu, Indonesia
The elegant complex of Lawang Sewu was built by Dutch colonists, but was captured by the Japanese army in 1945 and turned into a detention camp. Prisoners were interrogated, brutally tortured and executed in the building in the months before Japan surrendered. The location is believed to be the most haunted in Indonesia. Tourists flock to the site in the hope of catching a glimpse of the ghostly spirits that are said to wander its corridors.
Lawang Sewu, Komplek Tugu Muda Jl. Pemuda, Semarang, Indonesia
The Castle of Good Hope, South Africa
Built between 1666 and 1679, the castle is the oldest existing colonial building in South Africa. It is also reportedly the most haunted. The Dutch East India Company built the star-shaped building to use as a replenishment station for ships passing the choppy waters of the Cape of Good Hope. The castle was later used as a prison and is still said to be haunted by the ghosts of many inmates. The first reported paranormal sighting in the castle was a tall ghost who was seen wandering the castle’s ramparts in 1915.
The Castle of Good Hope, Darling St & Buitenkant St, Foreshore, Cape Town, South Africa +27 21 787 1260
The Island of Dolls, Mexico
This tiny island on Lake Xochimilco in Mexico City is believed to be one of the most haunted sites in Mexico. Dozens of plastic dolls dangle from the branches of the island’s trees, staring vacantly into the distance. Many are discoloured and weathered and some have missing heads or limbs. Don Julian Santana lived as a hermit on this island for more than fifty years and began collecting the dolls to ward off evil spirits after he found the drowned body of a little girl in the lake. Following Santana’s death in 2001 the island became a tourist attraction, with some visitors claiming to have seen the dolls open their eyes or talk.
Isla de las Muñecas, Xochimilco, San Lorenzo, Mexico City, Mexico +52 555 555 8257
Eastern State Penitentiary, United States
The former prison in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has been the site of numerous reported paranormal events. Abandoned in 1971, the penitentiary was infamously repressive, and was the very first to introduce solitary confinement. The guards would routinely hood inmates whenever they stepped outside their cells. Ghostly sightings at the prison include a silhouetted figure that is occasionally seen in the guard tower and mysterious sounds such as footsteps, cackling laughter and cell doors banging shut. Today the prison is open for spooky tours seven days a week, year-round.
Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States +1 215 236 3300
The Banff Springs Hotel, Canada
The Banff Springs Hotel, Canada
Located in the heart of Banff National Park, this luxury mountain hotel is reportedly one of the most haunted sites in North America. Built more than 125 years ago as a luxury rest point for train travellers, rumours have circulated for years about paranormal activity in the resort. One of the most commonly sighted ghosts is a bride who died falling down the staircase in a panic after her dress caught on fire. A family was also murdered in Room 873, and the door has been bricked up ever since.
The Banff Springs Hotel, 405 Spray Ave, Banff, Canada +1 403 762 2211