Whether you believe in ghosts or not, there are a lot of places in the world where sometimes creepy and freaky stuff happens, things that just can’t be explained with today’s science. Maybe one day we’ll be able to explain supposedly paranormal and supernatural occurrences, but for now, such happenings only serve to fuel modern-day legends and urban myths about ghosts and angry spirits that walk this mortal plane. The belief in spirits is widespread, a global phenomenon, and as such, there are plenty of places around the world where ghosts and other ghouls are reported to hang out. Sometimes, though, whether through a combination of accumulated history or a single tragedy, a location gains a reputation for being a congregation space for residents of the other world. These 12 locations—whether due to the longevity of the legend, the number of ghosts or the infamous nature of the ghosts—are some of the most haunted places on the face of the earth.
12. Valley of the Kings -Egypt
The ancient Egyptians’ burial practices are well-known to us today and, given the advanced techniques of preservation that allowed them to make mummies, it’s little wonder that any place associated with ancient Egyptian burials is rumored to be haunted. That, coupled with the lore that surrounds the pharaohs of ancient Egypt cursing their tombs to keep their riches and ward off would-be tomb robbers, makes a place like the Valley of the Kings seem particularly spooky. The Valley of the Kings, located in the Theban Hills off the western Nile, was used as a burial site for nearly 500 years. Tombs were constructed for powerful pharaohs and other nobles. The valley is known to contain 63 tombs and chambers. That’s a lot of mummies! Up to 10,000 visitors arrive in the Valley on any given day of the week and some of them have reported seeing a vision of an Egyptian pharaoh riding a fiery chariot drawn by black horses. Many deaths have been associated with the tomb of King Tut in particular, although most people suggest the “mummy’s curse” wasn’t actually responsible for these deaths.
11. Dumas Beach -Surat, India
This urban beach, located along the Arabian Sea in the Gujurat state of India, has become a popular destination for tourists. Well-connected to major cities by rail, Surat is particularly known for its blend of cuisines and along the promenade of Dumas Beach, you can find vendors selling Indian and Chinese street foods. Dariya Ganesh Temple, adjacent to the beach, is a popular attraction. The beach’s black sand is also a draw. But the locals believe the beach to be haunted. That’s because Dumas Beach has long been used as a crematorium by the local Hindu population. As per Hindu tradition, rather than burying bodies, the people of Surat burn their dead on the sands of Dumas. (Kind of makes you worry about why the sand is black, doesn’t it?) Visitors say they have heard voices telling them to “go back” where they came from. Sometimes, people hear many voices, although the beach is deserted at the time. Creepy!
10. The Kremlin -Moscow, Russia
The Kremlin is one of the most iconic buildings in Russia’s capital city, but this fortified complex has a reputation for being haunted, particularly by the leaders of old Soviet Russia. It’s little surprise, given the bloody legacy of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent Soviet era. Today, the complex serves as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation, and the Kremlin towers and Kremlin Wall are iconic as symbols of Russia. Indeed, the Kremlin is the most famous of 5 similar citadels, and with 4 palaces and 5 cathedrals, including Saint Basil’s Cathedral, it’s not hard to see why. The Kremlin is most associated with the Soviet era, although it was first made into a fortress in the 11th century. Later eras saw the fortress expanded and rebuilt. Revitalized in the imperial period, the Kremlin was first rebuilt by Catherine the Great. Since then, it has borne witness to assassinations, murder and intrigue, as well as damage suffered in war. Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin made the Kremlin his headquarters after the revolution of 1917, and Stalin also had rooms there. Today, some report seeing the ghosts of Lenin and Stalin stalking the Kremlin hallways!
9. Tuen Mun Road -Hong Kong, China
Since 1978, this highway has recorded an astounding number of accidents, many of them fatal. While some people attribute the number of accidents to the road’s early design and heavy usage, others claim they have seen ghosts materialize on the road, causing drivers to swerve and wreck their cars. Despite this, Tuen Mun is still one of the most heavily used roads in Hong Kong. One of the first high-speed highways in Hong Kong, many of the accidents on Tuen Mun can be attributed to poor design and cost-cutting measures used in its construction. The steep terrain and winding coastline presented some serious challenges for the engineering team and the decision to use substandard geometry and narrow carriageways directly led to a number of accidents. Although improvements have been made since that time, accidents are still frequent and often terrifying, such as a 2003 incident where a bus broke through the side of a bridge and plummeted into a village 35 meters below the road, causing 21 deaths! With incidents like that, it’s little wonder that people would believe there are some vengeful ghosts on the side of the road.
8. Zvikov Castle -Czech Republic
One of the most important castles in the Czech Republic, Zvikov Castle, also known as the “king of castles,” stands on a difficult-to-access promontory where the Vltava and Otava Rivers meet. The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times and has been the scene of many bloody battles over the years. Although it was heavily fortified and often successfully defended against enemies, the castle was only important for farming after 1640 and the conclusion of the Thirty Years’ War. The castle was mostly a ruin by the 1840s, but was restored after its owners invested huge sums in reconstruction. Today, the castle is open as an attraction to hikers from spring until autumn and hosts art exhibitions and plays. The castle has its own ghost, Zvikov’s imp, who has inspired writers and painters. The imp is said to inhabit the ancient tower Markomanka, which has strange engravings dating back to the 1st century AD. Fire hounds are also said to guard an underground tunnel, and visitors frequently report technical issues, weird photos and ghosts, among other odd events. It is also said that anyone who sleeps in the main tower will die within a year.
7. Aokigahara -Japan
Quick, name the most haunted place in Japan! If you guessed a forest at the base of Mount Fuji, you’d be right! Although Mt. Fuji is considered a sacred place, the forest located at the foot of the mountain, Aokigahara, has gained a rather unsavory reputation. In 1960, the novel Kuroi Jukai (Black Sea of Trees) was published and made the site a popular destination for those who wanted to commit suicide. In fact, it is the most common place in Japan to commit suicide and one of the most popular destinations in the world. In 2010, 247 people attempted suicide in the forest (54 were successful). Suicide attempts are said to peak in March, at the end of the Japanese fiscal year. Aokighara’s reputation goes back further, however; in the 19th century, it may have been used for ubasute, the practice of abandoning an elderly or infirm person to die in a remote location. The forest is reputedly haunted by the angry spirits of those who were left to perish. Aokighara is exceptionally quiet due to a lack of animal life and the density of the trees, which may be one of the reasons people think this forest is so eerie.
6. Baguio City -Philippines
Baguio City in the Philippines isn’t home to just 1 or 2 haunted houses; it’s home to a whole swath of reportedly haunted areas and pretty much the entire city is considered to be haunted. With a history that’s full of trauma and tragedy, it’s little wonder that there are so many specters in the city. Baguio was occupied by the Japanese during World War II and a number of places, including the Laperal White House and the Diplomat Hotel, were sites of horrific crimes and grisly deaths, fueling rumors that ghosts now haunt these places. The 1990 Luzon earthquake did extensive damage to many of the old buildings in the city and several of them collapsed, killing people trapped inside. Many of these sites are now haunted by the spirits of those who died in the disaster. Other haunted sites include the Teachers’ Camp and the Military Academy, and many other places, including cemeteries and old hotels and houses are also supposed to be haunted. If you want to meet a ghost, Baguio is your destination!
5. Cinco Saltos -Argentina
Also known as the City of Witches, Cinco Saltos in the Rio Negro province of Argentina is infamous for being haunted. It has been inhabited for only about 100 years, but it has earned its reputation because of the frequency of witchcraft reports. Bajo Negro, a place where no sunlight reaches, is where witchcraft is supposedly carried out. Some people have reported seeing people dressed in black robes performing rituals there, but no photos of the site exist. Other paranormal occurrences, such as UFO sightings, are reported in the area as well. In 2009, the intact corpse of a young girl was found in an ossuary in of one of the local cemeteries. She had died sometime in the 1930s and never been buried, but simply placed into the box and stored. Soon after, rumors of a ghost haunting the cemetery spread through the city. Nearby Pellegrini Lake is another site for supernatural spooks and ghouls. One story claims that an infant drowned in the lake over 50 years ago and can still be found haunting the shores of the lake, seeking comfort from those unfortunate enough to cross its path.
4. Ararat Lunatic Asylum –Victoria, Australia
Also known as Aradale, the Ararat Lunatic Asylum is the largest abandoned asylum in Australia. Opened in 1867, it was the destination for those mental patients deemed “incurable” in the late 19th century—and it was often their final destination. The asylum continued to operate until 1998, when it was finally closed. Today, it has been incorporated into the local campus of the Australian College of Wine. The asylum was built to accommodate the growing number of “lunatics” during Australia’s colonial years. Although the building was not officially opened until 1867, the patient list extends back to 1865, and 2 sister asylums were built nearby. Over the nearly 2 and a half centuries of operation, it’s estimated that close to 13,000 people met their maker at Aradale. Ghost tours operate frequently and take visitors through many parts of the original complex, including the administration, chapel, kitchen, wards and the morgue. You know, just in case a former asylum wasn’t creepy enough.
3. The Empress Hotel -British Columbia, Canada
One of the oldest and most famous hotels in Canada, the Fairmont Empress Hotel, commonly known as the Empress, is also one of the most famously haunted buildings in the country. Located in Victoria, BC, the hotel is a National Historic Site of Canada. Built between 1904 and 1908, the hotel has been witness to a number of historic events and often graced with the presence of British royalty and American celebrities. The hotel is also home to several ghosts. One is a thin man with a mustache and a cane, thought to be Francis Rattenbury, the hotel’s architect. On the 6th floor, an apparitional maid can sometimes be seen cleaning, bringing new meaning to the phrase “working to death.” Another specter is an elderly woman who reportedly goes about knocking on the doors of guests. She claims to need help finding her room. If one agrees to help her, she leads them toward the elevators, where she disappears. Another grisly tale relates to a worker who hanged himself in an elevator shaft in the early 1960s; a shadow of a body swinging from above is sometimes reported by guests. No matter what, the Empress hotel sure has some interesting guests!
2. Baskerville Hall -UK
You know a place is probably haunted when it ends up as a central location in a Sherlock Holmes novel. That’s precisely what happened to Baskerville Hall, located in Powys, Wales. The building, which is an enormous mansion, was first built in 1839 and quickly gained a reputation as being a popular haunt for some pretty ghastly visitors. The Hall is most famously haunted by the White Lady and the supposed hell hounds made famous in Conan Doyle’s novel, but there are allegedly many other spirits out and about as well. Another source of inspiration for Conan Doyle’s tale included the story of a wicked squire who, when buried in 1677, was said to lead a pack of phantom dogs to the hunt. Although Conan Doyle set his novel in Devon at the request of friends, in hopes of warding off tourists, the Hall today is a hotel ready to be explored. You might be greeted by a male apparition on the grand staircase, or you might encounter the White Lady in the rose garden. Like other guests, you might hear footsteps in the corridors or banging noises with no source.
1. Witch House –Massachusetts, USA
You can’t get through a “most haunted” list without invoking one of the most infamous cases in U.S. history, the Salem Witch Trials. Between February 1692 and May 1693, 20 people, mostly women, were hanged after being convicted of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts. The Witch House, also known as Jonathan Corwin House, is the last standing building with direct ties to the trials. The house was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, who was called upon to preside over the trials after the execution of Bridgette Bishop and the resignation of Judge Nathaniel Saltonstall. Corwin was involved in sending 19 of the 20 victims to the gallows. While no interrogations or trial proceedings were conducted in the house itself, the building is still rumored to be haunted by the spirits of those who were sentenced to death by Corwin and his colleagues. The house serves as a museum, open seasonally, and was featured in an episode of the TV series Ghost Adventures. Two other Salem buildings, the Joshua Ward House and the Lyceum Restaurant, are said to be haunted by spirits of people involved with the witch trials.