Even though it is not rational, we humans possess the urge to be terrified. Why else visit haunted houses, scary places or tell ghost stories? Balancing between fall and winter, life and death, Halloween is a holiday filled with magic, mystery and superstition. Along with kids dressing up in costumes, come some more disturbing phenomena: horror stories, wild parties and why not scary and haunted places around the world…
The Island of the Dolls, Mexico
One of the scariest places in the world, and only after a two-hour canal ride from Mexico City is the Island of Dolls. It is home to numerous broken and worn out creepy dolls that hang from trees. The story behind this place is that a reclusive Mexican man discovered a dead girl in a canal bordering the island. He believed that collecting dolls from the trash and hanging them all the way around the island will help to appease the girl’s spirit. However, in 2001 this the man was spotted dead in the exact same spot where he claimed to have discovered the dead girl, who apparently stills haunt the woods today. Scary place, isn’t it?
Akodessewa Fetish Market, Togo
Akodessewa, located in Togo’s capital Lomé, is the largest Voodoo market in the world. It is kind of a super store for fetishes, charms and other things one may need for magical rituals. In this marketplace, you can find anything from animal heads and parts, human skulls to Voodoo priests who bless, predict the future or simply make medicines to heal you. These healer priests will mix all these sorts of ingredients and burn them in order to produce a black powder which is then rubbed into your chest or back.
San Bernardino alle Ossa Milan, Italy
In the heart of Milan resides a church called San Bernardino alle Ossa. It has a small chapel which is filled out with thousands of human skulls and bones. The bones are attached to pillars and doors in different designs and patterns. The story behind this chapel is very interesting. Apparently, back in the 13th century bodies from a nearby hospital were piling up and the graveyard soon proved to be insufficient. In 1210 a small chamber was built to dig up old skeletons and move them from the cemetery into the small chamber which is known today as Milan Ossuary.
Chauchilla Cemetery, Peru
Chauchilla is the only archeological site in Peru where ancient mummies are to be seen in their original graves. It dates back to 1000AD and in addition to skulls and bones, remains such as ceramic fragments, tombs, hair are scattered on the desert surface. The mummies and the burial grounds are well preserved due to the dry climate in this area of Peru. Treasure hunters destroyed the place however it has been restored almost to its original condition.
Auschwitz was the largest concentration camp from the Nazi regime and was the only one that combined forced labor with extermination. Auschwitz is certainly the universal symbol of human suffering and human cruelty in the 20th century. Around 1.5 million people were starved, forced to work and murdered in this camp. Definitely the rooms with the victims belongings are the hardest to see because there you are able to understand the magnitude of human cruelty.
Hanging Coffins of Sagada, Philippines
Members of the Igorot tribe in northern Philippines have for many years practiced the tradition of burying their death in hanging coffins attached to the sides of a cliff. The tribe wanted a place where the corpses would be safe and it is thought that moving the bodies of the dead higher up will bring them closer to their ancestral spirits. This procedure dates back for more than two millennia and up to this day continues to be performed but in a much smaller scale.
Abandoned city of Pripyat, Ukraine
Before being abandoned due to the Chernobyl nuclear accident, Pripyat had a population of almost 50,000 people. The nuclear Power Plant accident took place in 1986 and the whole city had to be evacuated due to a leak of nuclear radiation. Nowadays the city is a ghost town with a few reminders of the lives that once lived there. Dolls are dispersed on abandoned kindergartens and houses, children bunk beds are found with shreds of mattresses and pillows and little by little nature is reclaiming this town. Pripyat will remain unfit for human habitation for hundred of years to come.
Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, Italy
Definitely one of the scariest places around the world is this macabre spectacle that bring to light the customs and traditions of the Palermo society from the 17th and 19th century. The catacombs hold the remains of 8000 mummified bodies hanging on the walls or resting in open caskets. The well conservation of the corpses exposed makes the Capuchin Catacombs and impressive but creepy place to visit.
Chapel of Bones, Portugal
“Stop here and think of the fate that will befall you” is the inscription stated over the door of this ossuary. Similarly to San Bernardino alle Ossa in Milan, this chapel contains bones of 5000 monks and two hanging bodies from ropes. Constructed from femurs with mortar, skulls and bones are placed in regular intervals. This ossuary in Faro is definitely one of the scariest places in the world.
Paris Catacombs in France
Between the 17th and 18th century, cemeteries were overflowing. Since the graves were overcrowding, many remains were relocated to the tunnels that were found beneath the city. The catacombs contain the bones of thousands of people and they are laid out in ingenious arrangements. This place is thought to be haunted with many people reporting seeing apparitions and telling stories of discontented spirits around.
Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague
Just imagine an overcrowded cemetery that contains around twelve layers of graves stacked on top of each other. It was forbidden to dig out buried corpses, and therefore the tombs were squeezed and even piled up on several layers. This cemetery is one of the oldest Jewish graveyards in Europe dating back to the 15th century and has about 12,000 visible gravestones. The amount of buried bodies is even greater with over 100,000 people buried there.