Whether you’re a believer or not, around the world towns are filled with spooky stories passed down through time. From haunted fortresses to grisly tales of suffering and death, we’ve pull together a list of some of the spookiest spots in the world.
The Tolbooth, Aberdeen, UK
The Tolbooth in Aberdeen has a dark past, first as a prison to house members of the Jacobite revolution in the mid-1700s, and then to hold kidnapped children who were sold into slavery in the American colonies. Among the stories of paranormal activity are the sounds of rattling chains, sightings of mysterious white mist, and a tight feeling around the necks of visitors.
Aradale Asylum, Ararat, Victoria, Australia
A ‘village within a village’, the Aradale Asylum is a huge complex that opened in 1867. Over 13,000 people were estimated to have died there, and not always due to natural causes. Tours of the site mention the ghost of Nurse Kerry who is supposed to haunt the women’s wing. The visitors have shared tales of unexpected sensations, being touched, feeling cold, drafts running through the building for no apparent reason and loud bangs from parts of the building that are unoccupied.
The LaLaurie Mansion, New Orleans, Louisiana
When local police responded to a kitchen fire in 1834, they discovered the bodies of several horribly mutilated slaves in the attic. When the public learned of LaLaurie’s grotesque secret, a mob stormed the house, prompting her to flee to France. Soon after LaLaurie disappeared from New Orleans, people claimed to hear the phantom screams of her victims spilling from the house in the dead of night. In 2014, the infamous murderess was reborn through Kathy Bates in the television series American Horror Story: Coven.
Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast, Fall River, Massachusetts
On August 4, 1892, the bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden were discovered bludgeoned beyond recognition in their home. The prime suspect: their youngest daughter, Lizzie. The Borden case was one of America’s first crimes to unfold under the media spotlight, capturing the attention of the nation. Despite allegations that Lizzie had financial motives for the murder and growing public scrutiny, she was ultimately acquitted due to lack of physical evidence. The Borden home has since been converted into a museum and bed-and-breakfast, where guests can see gruesome photos of the crime scene and sleep in one of its reportedly haunted rooms. The 19th-century murder made headlines again when it received a Hollywood makeover with Lifetime’s 2014 movie Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, starring Christina Ricci.
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, Weston, West Virginia
This foreboding asylum began construction in 1858 and opened to patients in 1864. The massive structure was designed by architect Richard Andrews to maximize sunlight and fresh air—it was believed that the building itself would serve as a healing environment.
By the 1950s, the facility designed for 250 people housed 2,400 patients in crowded conditions, with afflictions ranging from alcoholism to epilepsy. Patients were physically restrained and often given inhumane treatments, such as electroshock therapy and lobotomies. After more than a century in operation, the facility was forced to close in 1994 due to reforms in mental health treatment and the deterioration of the building. Hundreds of patients died during the asylum’s tenure, and scores of guests and ghost hunters have claimed to see their shadowy figures roaming Trans-Allegheny’s crumbling halls. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America, and supposedly the second largest in the world after the Kremlin in Moscow.
Mary Kings Close, Edinburgh, UK
Under the Old Town of Edinburgh is a warren of small tunnels and alleyways that where traders would hawk their wares here for people in the Old Town in the 1600’s. Being so packed, when plague came to Edinburgh, the close was especially affected. After being abandoned, it was sealed from the public in the 18th Century and the stories of haunting began. Nowadays the Close can be visited by guided tour. A tour guide has reported dozens of instances where tourists have felt unwell, a hand grabbing at them, or sudden chills; the same guide even had an instance of a coin or small metal object being thrown at a tour guide as he was leaving a room!
The Ancient Ram Inn, Wooten-Under-Edge, UK
This restaurant and hotel was built in the 1100s and has regular guests lining up to be terrorised by screams and moving furniture. The current owners of the property believe that it is built on a former Pagan burial ground where children were sacrificed. Caroline Humphries, who has lived in the house for over 30 years, is used to the sight of guests fleeing from visions of a little girl, the cries of children and sensations of being pushed down onto the bed by a male demon.
Salem, Massachusetts, USA
Salem is of course the site of the infamous Witch Trials where 20 people, mostly women, were hanged for consorting with the Devil and casting spells upon the towns children. Bridget Bishop, the first woman to be hanged, is thought to haunt the Lyceum Bar and Grill, which is built on the site of an apple orchard that she had owned. Another notorious figure in the trials was Giles Corey, a wealthy farmer. As the property of the guilty would be divided up amongst the rest of the townspeople, it is now believed that Corey was a target because of his wealth. Witnesses have reported seeing his angry ghost around the city’s oldest graveyard, the Howard Street Cemetery. The House of Seven Gables has also been the site of paranormal activity, with a general oppressive atmosphere, as well as a rocking chair that has appeared to move by itself.
Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia
This menacing Gothic-style prison opened in Philadelphia in 1829 and became the first in the U.S. to implement solitary confinement, a hotly debated practice. Prisoners languished in gloomy stone cells with virtually no human contact, with hoods placed over their heads anytime they were moved. Proponents of this system believed that solitude would lead to penitence, which would ultimately result in rehabilitation. Critics, on the other hand, believed it incited emotional anguish comparable to physical torture. The so-called “Pennsylvania system” was replicated in several other states and in Europe.
When the prison closed in 1971, it is believed that the ghosts of the inmates took back the prison. Visitors claim to see their apparitions wandering the corridors and hear mischievous whispers in abandoned cell blocks. Each summer the penitentiary hosts an annual Bastille Day celebration to commemorate the French Revolution. Two thousand Tastykakes (a Philadelphia treat) are flung from the prison’s towers while a Marie Antoinette impersonator is dragged to the guillotine.
R.M.S. Queen Mary, Long Beach, California
This retired ocean liner sailed the Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967. During her first three years at sea, the Queen Mary carried Hollywood celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn and dignitaries like General Dwight Eisenhower. Her days as a luxury ship were short lived, however, and in 1939 she was stripped of her amenities and began her second life as the “Grey Ghost,” a World War II troopship. At the conclusion of the war, she was restored to her former glory and traversed the Atlantic for nearly two more decades. On Halloween 1967, the Queen Mary departed on her last cruise, eventually docking in Long Beach, California, her final resting place. The ship is reportedly haunted by the spirits of those who died aboard, such as the young sailor who was crushed to death by a door in the engine room, and a crew member who was murdered in cabin B340. Winston Churchill signed the D-Day Declaration aboard the Queen Mary during World War II. The Queen Mary no longer sails the Atlantic, but she lives on as a floating hotel and restaurant on California’s Pacific coast. Follow in the footsteps of her famous passengers and book a room.