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The 20 Most Haunted Places in the World

Edinburgh Castle

Conventional wisdom says to avoid haunted places. However, some people seek them out instead. Sometimes, this is because of thrill-seeking. Other times, this is because of fascination with the unknown. Whatever the case, interested individuals have no shortage of haunted places to choose from.

Carl Beck House

20. Carl Beck House, Canada

The Carl Beck House is one of the funnier stories on this list. In short, Carl Beck was a rich businessman who had nine children. His eldest daughter Mary took charge of her siblings when his wife died. Ungratefully, Beck gave her $1 as her inheritance when he died. Very understandably, Mary's angry ghost still haunts the house.

Höfði House

19. Höfði, Iceland

Höfði is best known for being the site of a historic meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. Besides that, it is host to a ghost. Some say she is a victim of suicide. Others say she is a victim of drowning.

RMS Queen Mary, United States

18. RMS Queen Mary, United States

RMS Queen Mary is a passenger liner turned troopship turned passenger liner once more. Now, it is retired. Thanks to that, RMS Queen Mary is a mix of a museum, a restaurant, and a hotel in Long Beach, CA. Several passengers died aboard during its time as a cruise ship. That presumably explains the reported presence of ghosts.

La Recoleta Cemetary, Argentina

17. La Recoleta Cemetary, Argentina

Recoleta is an upper-class neighborhood in the Argentinian capital of Bueno Aires. In turn, La Recoleta Cemetary is one of the most notable cemeteries in the country. For proof, look no further than how Eva Perón and a host of other Argentinian luminaries rest there. Turismo Buenos Aires tells stories about how the ghost of a grave-digger named David Alleno haunts the site. Supposedly, he spent 30 years saving for a statue plus a plot of land. Then, he committed suicide as soon as everything was ready for him.

Château de Brissac, France

16. Château de Brissac, France

The Château de Brissac is one of the better-known buildings of its kind. Supposedly, the ghost of an unfaithful woman murdered by her vengeful husband haunts its chapel. Interested individuals can recognize her by her distinctive green dress.

La Isla de las Muñecas, Mexico

15. La Isla de las Muñecas, Mexico

Britannica describes a chinampa as a small, floating garden. The Aztecs were famous for their chinampas, so it makes sense that these structures still exist in Mexico City. La Isla de las Muñecas is one of the most famous chinampas. That is because its trees and its buildings bear rather unusual fruit in the form of old, worn-out dolls. As the story goes, the chinampa's owner Julián Santana Barrera found the body of a young girl who had drowned in the canal. He was so terrified that he started putting up the dolls to fend off malevolent spirits. The passing decades have made the site spookier than ever.

Oriental Theatre, United States

14. Oriental Theatre, United States

There are several Oriental Theatres in the United States. This one refers to the one in Chicago now called the Nederlander Theatre. Some say ghosts haunt the place. For context, the building had a predecessor called the Iroquois Theatre. It was the site of the deadliest single-building fire in U.S. history with more than 600 deaths. The street behind the building has a particularly bad reputation because that is where people stacked the bodies afterward.

Separate Prison, Australia

13. Separate Prison, Australia

Good intentions can lead to not-so-good outcomes. Jeremy Bentham was a famous philosopher who supported individual freedom, equality of the sexes, the end of slavery, the end of capital punishment, and the end of physical punishment. The Guardian says he even believed in decriminalizing homosexuality, which is notable because he lived in a time when the United Kingdom executed people for it. Some of Bentham's ideas have aged much more poorly than others. In particular, he came up with the idea of a panopticon prison that allowed a single guard to watch all of the prisoners without the latter knowing about it. The issue is that it proved damaging to both the guards and the prisoners. Old, abandoned prisons are always spooky. A panopticon layout makes them even more so.

Forbidden City, China

12. Forbidden City, China

Royal infighting is a nasty business. Winners claim incredible power, while losers can expect death or worse. As a result, sites associated with royal infighting often have a reputation for hauntings. Beijing's Forbidden City is no exception to this rule. It was the palace complex of both the Ming and Qing emperors, meaning it was the center of China for more than five centuries. There are stories about ghosts and other strange phenomena showing up on its grounds at night, which might explain why it closes so early.
Al Jazirah Al Hamra, United Arab Emirates

11. Al Jazirah Al Hamra, United Arab Emirates

Abandoned buildings make for disturbing scenes. Al Jazirah Al Hamra is a town in the United Arab Emirates famous for precisely that. The locals tell stories of unexplained sights and sounds. Oftentimes, they attribute these things to jinn, referring to invisible spirits that are neither inherently good nor inherently evil. Interested individuals might recognize these entities under the Anglicized name of genies.

Poveglia, Italy

10. Poveglia, Italy

Poveglia is a small island in the Venetian Lagoon. Once upon a time, it was inhabited. Then, fighting in the late 14th century caused its people to flee for safety. As a result, Venice used Poveglia first as a quarantine station and then as a mental asylum. That history has produced several frightening stories about the island. For example, Poveglia is home to the ghosts of quarantined Venetians, who are no more capable of leaving in death than they were in life. Likewise, Poveglia is the place where ghosts drove a lobotomist to commit suicide by jumping off of its bell tower. Nowadays, people are forbidden to visit the island, though they can still see its crumbling structures from neighboring shores.

Bhangarh, India

9. Bhangarh, India

Bhangarh is a village in India's Rajasthan state. It has a fearsome reputation with the locals, so much so that it is forbidden for people to visit the place from sunset to sunrise. The exact reason is unclear. One story says the village suffered destruction because one of the locals violated the command of a holy man. Another story says there is a lingering curse from a dying sorcerer crushed beneath a rock because of his wrongdoing.

Edinburgh Castle

8. Edinburgh Castle, United Kingdom

Edinburgh Castle's location makes it one of the most important strongholds in Scotland. It is so old that we aren't 100 percent sure when the locals fortified the site. Regardless, the sheer length of Edinburgh Castle's history has enabled it to pick up a fine selection of ghost stories. Amusingly, one of them even claims a ghost dog is running around in its dog cemetery, which is strangely adorable.


7. Xunantunich, Belize

Everyone knows about the Aztecs' human sacrifices. Fewer people know that a wide range of Mesoamerican cultures had such rituals even if none practiced it to the same extent. Xunantunich means something along the lines of "Maiden of the Rock." The Maya archaeological site is named thus because a white-clothed woman with burning red eyes haunts the place. No one knows why. One popular story is that she was a human sacrifice.


6. Catacombs of Paris, France

Paris stands on a network of underground tunnels. Strictly speaking, the Catacombs refer to the ossuaries taking up a small part of the network, but it is common for people to use the term to refer to the whole thing. The reason for the creation of the Catacombs is surprisingly prosaic. Smithsonian says Parisian cemeteries were overflowing, so the authorities decided to stack the bones of centuries of Parisian dead in the underground tunnels. Initially, the bones were disorganized. Eventually, the director of the Paris Mine Inspection Service decided it would be better to arrange them in proper patterns complemented by cemetery decorations plus other ornamental elements. The result is striking, particularly when people remember that it is very easy to get lost in the underground tunnels if they venture beyond the tourist-friendly areas.

Leap Castle, Ireland

5. Leap Castle, Ireland

Medieval Chronicles describes oubliettes as small, shaft-like prisons built into medieval castles. They are effectively torture devices that isolated their occupants in dark, cramped confines. As a result, it is hard to say whether the spikes found in the Leap Castle's oubliette were a mercy for the castle owners' victims or not. On the one hand, being impaled on spikes is a bad way to go; on the other hand, being impaled on spikes would have been a much faster end than wasting away bit by bit in a hole. Regardless, Leap Castle's oubliette saw plenty of use. We know this because renovation workers removed three cartloads of human bones from it in the early 20th century.

Tower of London, United Kingdom

4. Tower of London, United Kingdom

Edinburgh Castle isn't the United Kingdom's most famous haunted castle. Instead, that would be the Tower of London, the control of which played an important role in the control of England as a whole. Indeed, Historic Royal Palaces mentions how the staff keeps a small number of ravens at the stronghold because of the legend that the country will fall even if they ever leave.

In modern times, the Tower of London remains well-known because of the well-known individuals imprisoned therein for being at odds with the ruling authorities. Despite that, the number of said individuals executed at the stronghold is low, though it isn't zero either. To name an example, two of Henry VIII's wives met their end at the Tower of London. The first was Anne Boleyn, who was likely to have been framed for adultery. Meanwhile, the second was Catherine Howard, who was guilty of similar acts but was nonetheless more piteous than anything else. She was still in her late teens or early 20s when she went to the block.

Winchester Mystery House, United States

3. Winchester Mystery House, United States

The Winchester Mystery House is named for Sarah Winchester. She was the widow of William Wirt Winchester, the son of the founder of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Sarah Winchester moved to California after losing her daughter and then her husband. There, she oversaw a series of strange changes to an unfinished building, thus transforming it into a bizarre seven-story mansion. Some of its doors lead nowhere. Likewise, both the number 13 and spiderweb patterns repeat throughout the interior in various ways. Popular legend claims that Sarah Winchester ordered these changes to fool the vengeful ghosts of those killed by Winchester guns. True or not, it is striking, thus ensuring people will tell it far into the future.

Lawang Sewu, Indonesia

2. Lawang Sewu, Indonesia

Lawang Sewu is a former office building in the capital of Indonesia's Central Java province. Originally, it was the headquarters of the Dutch East Indies Railway Company. During World War II, the Japanese turned it into a detention camp. For context, Indonesians welcomed the Japanese as liberators from their Dutch masters at the start of the occupation. Subsequently, their opinions soured when Imperial Japan proceeded to act like Imperial Japan. One estimate says four million Indonesians died because of famine and forced labor. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Lawang Sewu witnessed numerous examples of torture and execution, thus contributing to its legend as a haunted site.

Aokigahara, Japan

1. Aokigahara, Japan

Wild forests are terrifying. Aokigahara is particularly unnerving because of its haunted reputation. To a small extent, that is because of claims of ubasute, which is a kind of senicide. The primary reason for Aokigahara's reputation is its status as one of the most infamous suicide sites in the world. Dozens and dozens of people commit suicide in the forest every single year. The situation is so bad that there are signs at some trailheads encouraging people to reconsider their plans in this regard.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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