The Most Haunted Places in the World and Their Dark Pasts
From forests that some people never leave to castles with permanent spiritual residents.
If visiting haunted locations is up your alley, get ready to lengthen (and strengthen!) your paranormal bucket list. But even if you simply enjoy learning about them from afar, you're still in the right place... While there are plenty of haunted destinations in the United States, those only make up a fraction of the ghostly hotspots around the world. From the Aokigahara, also known as Suicide Forest, in Japan to the Island of Dolls in Mexico, there's no shortage of spooky scenes and sightings on this planet and beyond. Ahead, dive into the most haunted ones, many of which you can see in real life...if you dare! Oh, and if you enjoy looking at mysterious yet pretty places that may or may not be occupied by ghosts, you'll want to brush up on these most beautiful abandoned placesin the world, too.
1. Château de Brissac; Brissac-Quincé, France
As one of the tallest castles in France, the seven-story Château de Brissac is said to host the "Green Lady" who, as the castle's websitelays out, is the illegitimate daughter of King Charles VII. She was murdered by her husband after he discovered she was having an affair. It's said that she was wearing a green dress at the time of her death, and now she roams the castle moaning in the early hours.
2. La Recoleta Cemetery,;Buenos Aires, Argentina
It's no surprise to hear that a cemetery is haunted. La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires is home to the graves of many notable people, including Eva Perón, presidents of Argentina, Nobel Prize winners, and even a granddaughter of Napoleon. It's full of stunning and eerie statues, mausoleums, detailed tombstones, and stone walkways, One of the most notable ghost stories involves David Alleno, a former grave-digger who worked at the cemetery for decades before killing himself. People report hearing the jangle of his keys.
3. Banff Springs Hotel, Canada
Located in Banff National Park and dubbed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this famous Canadian hotel has a dark history. Many guests have reported ghost sightings, including of Sam the bellman who continues to do his job after his death in 1975. Legend says he used to help guests who were locked out of their rooms, and now the elevator sometimes opens on floors without the buttons being pressed.
4. Aokigahara Forest, Japan
Also known as Suicide Forest, Aokigahara lies at the bottom of Mount Fuji in Japan. There have been more than 500 reported suicides in the forest since the 1950s, BBC reports. Some people say it's because of big underground deposits of iron that interfere with compasses and make people get lost. Others blame the forest’s association with demons in Japanese mythology. Who knows what spirits are lurking?
5. Tower of London; London, England
A top tourist destination in England, the Tower of London is a fortress known for its unforgiving history as a prison and execution site. Ghosts of all ages linger from headless apparitions to two young princes who were imprisoned and disappeared in 1483... only for their remains to be discovered in the tower in 1647.
6. Forsyth Park; Savannah, GA
Savannah, Georgia is a city packed with endless haunted sites, and its mysterious underground tunnels are a key player in that status—especially in Forsyth Park. In the passages, experts at the Candler Hospital (now the Savannah Law School) did autopsies in the passageways, Savannah Magazinereports. Some say they see shadowy figures when touring the tunnels today. Tune into episode 4 of Dark House on October 20 to hear about one of the city's most notoriously haunted houses.
7. Castle of Good Hope; Cape Town, South Africa
Originally a ship replenishment station built by the Dutch East India Company, this castle also served as a military fortress and prison during the Second Boer War from 1899 to 1902. The castle's official websitelays out its gruesome past, which involved men being hanged. One of them put a curse on governor Pieter van Noodt who condemned them to death, and the governor died of a heart attack the next day. If you're up for it, you can tour the many rooms of the castle—including the torture chamber.
8. The Forbidden City; Beijing, China
This imperial palace is a super-popular tourist destination, that you probably had no clue it's also a hotspot for paranormal activity. When it operated as a palace, the destination saw its fair share of poisonings and executions. Since the palace opened to the public in the 1940s, people have reported all sorts of ghost sightings—one of which includes a wandering and sobbing woman dressed in white.
9. Alcatraz Island; California, United States
Alcatraz Island is home to one of the most haunted prisons in America. Located in the San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz was built in 1859 but didn't become a federal penitentiary until 1934. Up until 1963, Alcatraz housed many of the world's most notorious criminals and was also the site of prison personnel murders, inmate suicides, and escape deaths—which kind of explains why so many people get the heebie-jeebies when inside. The former prison has all the standard signs of paranormal activity. Classic ghosts in chains are reported to make a raucous at night, in addition to standard wailing and moaning. Perhaps the most chilling account is of one inmate in D-block, who reported seeing red eyes in his cell. He screamed all night long—and in the morning, he was found dead and completely alone, strangled to death.
10. Isla de las Munecas (Island of the Dolls), Mexico
This haunted location is not for the faint of heart. Isla de las Munecas in Mexico, aka Island of the Dolls, was never intended to be a tourist destination. Legend says a girl was found mysteriously drowned on the island by its caretaker Don Julian Santana Barrera. He found a doll nearby and assuming it was hers, he hung it to a tree as a way of showing respect. He was apparently haunted by the spirit of the girl after that and started hanging more dolls in an attempt to please her. People say the dolls are now possessed by her spirit. Some even claim they hear the dolls whispering to each other, according to the island's website.
11. Poveglia Island; Venice, Italy
Once used as a plague quarantine station and the location of a mental hospital, Venice's Poveglia Island has seen some dark days. With the number of deaths and evil activities on the island, the site has attracted the attention of ghost hunters and paranormal investigators from all over. Today, the mental hospital's ruins remain, and the island is strictly off-limits to any visitors, Atlas Obscura reports.
12. Stanley Hotel; Colorado, United States
Built in 1909, the Stanley Hotelinspired Stephen King's novel The Shining—which sums it up, really. Designed and managed by the genius inventor Freelan Oscar Stanley and his wife, Flora, the hotel was both a symbol of scientific advancement (with electricity and telephones) and a nature-filled retreat for wealthy urbanites from the East. By the 1970s, the Stanley Hotel had faded in splendor and was considered haunted. As it turns out, Freelan and Flora remained active in the running of the hotel—years after their deaths. Freelan has been photographed overseeing the billboard room, and Flora's beloved Steinway can be heard playing late at night. Today, the hotel has been restored and is fully functional — book a stay if you dare.
13. Larnach Castle, New Zealand
Seen on an episode of Ghost Hunters International in 2008, the Larnach Castle in New Zealand was built for William Larnach and his family. Rumor has it that the ballroom in the residence is haunted by his favorite daughter Kate. He built the room for her as a 21st birthday present, but tragedy struck when she died a few years later of typhoid.
14. Pittock Mansion; Oregon, United States
Newspaper editor Henry Pittock and his wife Georgiana built this French Renaissance-style mansion back in 1914 in Portland, Oregon. They died a few years later, and some say their spirits still linger. After their deaths, the mansion remained in the family until it was decided that it would be sold in 1958. When a storm hit in 1962, it caused a lot of damage to the mansion. Developers wanted to demolish it, but the community stepped in to pay for its repairs and turn it into a historic site that you can visit today.