Visiting beautiful, scenic places has its place when you’re on holiday. It uplifts you, gives you some amazing photographs, and makes your friends jealous. But sometimes, you want a different type of holiday. You want to test your nerves and give yourself the chills at some of the most haunted places in the world. There are a lot of buildings and locations that are said to be haunted. And some of them will scare even the most seasoned traveler.
10. Casa Loma
In the middle of Toronto there’s a castle that was built by a once powerful man and is now one of the most haunted places in the world. It’s the subject of speculation and legends about the ghosts that might or might not walk its opulent halls. The castle was built by Sir Henry Mill Pellatt, who was a Canadian financier and founded the Toronto Electric Light Company in 1883. Unfortunately, he had expensive tastes, which extended as far as 18 carat nameplates for his horses, and eventually he lost everything.
Since then, his house has been open to the public, and perhaps to some less corporeal guests. Witnesses tell of a White Lady who wanders the halls, believed to be a maid who worked in the castle during an influenza plague in the early 1900s. Sir Henry and his wife are also said to be still in residence, perhaps mourning what they built, loved, and lost.
And a less friendly ghost reportedly haunts the tunnels that lead to the stables. Visitors have reported being grabbed or having their hair pulled by invisible hands. He’s even been recorded sighing and gruffly mimicking visitors. This ghost is believed to be a departed friend of Sir Henry’s who was hired to look after the horses. On thing’s clear though, this is a grumpy, grabby ghost.
9. Bhangarh Fort
One of the most haunted places in the world is not far from Delhi in India, where there’s a fort that lies in ruins. According to the stories, it was cursed by a disgruntled sorcerer after his advances were rejected by a princess. He created a love potion to win her heart but ended up being crushed by a boulder after he was found out. As he lay dying, he cursed the family she belonged to, and they were all killed a year later during a conflict between Bhangarh and Ajabgarh.
As the story goes, the curse guarantees that the fort remains abandoned. People claim that no one in the village or fort can be reborn, and any new structures that are built tend to collapse. In fact, there are so many stories about the haunting of the fort that it’s only open during the day. At night, when the ghostly inhabitants are likely to be more active, entry is prohibited.
8. Stanley Hotel
Even the author Stephen King knew that this hotel must be one of the most haunted places in the world. Just about everyone has heard of Stephen King’s The Shining, and this is the hotel that inspired that terrifying story! Located in Estes Park in Colorado, the hotel was opened in 1909 and is a gorgeous specimen of Georgian architecture. But it also has a long history of hauntings, eerie music, and spectral threats.
This hotel is full of stories. Room 217, where Mr. and Mrs. King stayed, was the scene of a gas explosion in 1911 that shot a maid into a wall. She lived but seems to have come back to the hotel after her eventual death and is even more helpful now! Visitors report that the maid often returns to clean their room and provide turn down services. And according to other stories, American businessman Freelan Oscar Stanley and his wife Flora stroll the halls and play the piano. And ghosts in Victorian dresses apparently give fashion advice in the middle of the night.
But not all the stories are so benign. Apparently, Jim Carrey stayed in Room 217 while making a film and ran away after just three hours there. Whatever the truth is, no one can contest that the hotel filled with eerie piano music and ghost sightings made it one of the most haunted places in the world.
7. The Paris Catacombs
The catacombs under Paris were discovered in 2004 when the police were sent to do a training exercise under the Palais de Chaillot. When they got down there, they found cameras recording their every move and security measures designed to keep out the unwary.
After some investigations, a cinema, restaurant and fully stocked bar were found down there. No one came forward to claim this secret hideaway, but when they investigated where the power was coming from, they got a shock. Someone had cut the cables and left a note saying, “Do not try and find us.” Whoever was visiting down there before, whether ghost, secret society, or eccentric millionaire, they were never seen again.
And the Catacombs have an even more grisly history to them that makes them one of the most haunted places in the world. More than 6 million skeletons are housed down there, relics of a time when open air cemeteries in Paris became full and the bones were moved to the tunnels by priests. They were crammed underneath the city and remain there to this day. So, there really is no end to the spirits that could haunt the tunnels. They’re so huge and filled with bodies that it would be strange if there weren’t some ghostly visitors.
6. The Tower of London
The Tower of London was built in 1066 by William the Conqueror and was the site of many bloody and horrible sights. Some of the worst and most famous executions were carried out within and around these walls. Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, two wives of Henry the VIII, were both executed in the tower. The two young sons of King Edward IV were imprisoned in the tower, and their remains unearthed over 150 years later. Those are just two of the unsettling stories that were known – who knows what else those walls could tell? Over the years they’ve probably seen every form of deprivation, torture and death that mankind ever conceived of, which is why it’s one of the most haunted places in the world.
There are almost as many ghost stories about the Tower of London as there tales of what went on in the fortress. Anne Boleyn has been seen stalking the site of her execution, and the two young princes have been running about as well. Arbella Stuart, who died of starvation in the tower when she was put there after marrying without royal permission, is said to still wander the Queen’s House. And most terrifying of all, there are even stories of a huge spectral bear who occasionally terrifies visitors and staff.
5. Lawang Sewu
Lawang Sewu is one of the most haunted places in the world – with good reason. This building is a very popular tourist attraction in Indonesia, but it has a horrific history. In the early 20th century, it served as head office for the Dutch East Indian Railway Company. But during WWII, it was used as a detention camp by the Japanese. During their occupation, it was the site of some of the most horrific interrogations, tortures, and executions imaginable. And that horror has definitely sunk into the walls.
The locals now believe this building is one of the most haunted in Indonesia, and who can blame them? Ghostly images have been caught in photographs and videos and visitors have reported seeing chilling, spectral forms. The most common is that of a headless Dutchwoman, possibly one of the victims of the occupation.
This reputation has suffered a bit with upgrades to the building. But the shiny new paint can’t hide the building’s history or its place on lists of the most haunted places in the world.
4. Winchester House
The Winchester Mystery House is the house that was built forever. It once belonged to Sarah Lockwood Pardee Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arms fortune and reportedly a very peculiar woman. She suffered a lot during her life and eventually moved out to San Jose, California and started renovating an eight-room farmhouse. The result was a house that just kept growing, with additions that stopped only after Sarah’s death.
The Mystery House is one of the world’s weirdest and biggest mansions. It’s over 24,000 square feet in size with 160 rooms, 13 bathrooms, 6 kitchens, and 10,000 windows. As the story goes, Sarah built it to appease the restless spirits of people killed by Winchester rifles. A psychic told her to keep building to keep the spirits at bay, and she took the advice quite literally.
Since her death, ghostly encounters have haunted the house. Paranormal investigators were called in and television specials created about the unusual phenomena there. Whether you believe the stories about ghosts or not, Sarah seems to have believed them. According to the theories, the madcap, confusing layout was meant to confuse the ghosts. That is why some of the staircases lead into ceilings, secret passages twist throughout the house, and a cabinet opens to an entire wing of rooms. Whatever the truth, visiting this house is an unsettling and spooky experience.
3. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is absolutely iconic. It dominates the landscape, soaring over the skyline of Edinburgh like a sentry. And for a lot of years, that’s exactly what this castle was. It was one of the most important strongholds in Scotland and has seen a lot of battles over the years. This is what has made it one of the most haunted places in the world.
In more modern times, Edinburgh Castle has become a hotbed for paranormal activity. In the dungeons, former prisoners are said to haunt the place where they died. And one of the most common apparitions is that of a headless drummer boy, who was first seen back in 1650, before Oliver Cromwell attacked the castle. Actually, it’s rare that people see the boy. But they hear his drums, which are said to foretell danger.
2. Castle of Good Hope
A sprawling building near the shoreline of Table Bay, the Castle of Good Hope dates back to 1666, making it the oldest colonial building in South Africa. Originally built by the Dutch East India Company as a replenishment station for ships, the site also served as a military fortress and prison during the Second Boer War from 1899-1902. Today, you can tour the fort’s many rooms and buildings (including the gruesome torture chamber) but you might want to prepare yourself for a ghost sighting. Back in the 1700s, Governor Pieter van Noodt condemned several men to death by hanging. One of the men cursed the governor from the gallows, and van Noodt died of a heart attack later that day. According to the Castle of Good Hope’s official website, his ghost has been haunting the battlements ever since.
1. Aokigahara Forest
In Japan there is a forest at the foot of Mount Fuji that’s one of the most haunted places in the world. This forest has one of the most terrible histories that a natural place can have. Known as ‘Suicide Forest’, it has seen more than 500 suicides since the 1950s alone. There is no solid reason why this forest has seen so many tragic deaths. Some say that it’s because of the forest’s strong connections with the demons of Japanese mythology. Others claim that the deaths were probably accidents. Perhaps, they are confused hikers that got lost when the iron under the mountain made their compasses useless. But nonetheless it’s a sad, spooky place to visit.
The forest itself is naturally spooky. The trees twist and turn in on each other, clustered close over the uneven, rocky terrain. And it’s unnaturally still. The trees are too close together to let in much wind or wildlife. So, when you’re walking there, your breathing and heartbeat sound like a roar.
Make sure you stay on the path if you visit this contender for the most haunted places in the world. According to the stories, the spirits that remain are vengeful and hungry. And on a more grounded note, it’s not uncommon to see personal belongings and other grislier remains when you stray off the path.
There’s lots of amazing locations to explore. Just don’t forget that not all of them are beautiful, because the most haunted places in the world have their own kind of charm.