5 Dec 2013
Have you ever noticed that ghosts can often have terrible taste in real estate? I mean, some of the mansions and castles are pretty spectacular, but often they just traipse around graveyards, jails, or deserted towns moaning softly to themselves and bringing down any living visitors to the place. Why don’t you move, ghostie? They can walk through walls for Pete’s sake! Surely anywhere in the world is fair game. Well, enough trifling waffle. Here are 10 creepy places I wouldn’t like to stay overnight in, dead or alive.
1) The Alamo, USA
The Alamo, in modern-day San Antonio, Texas, was originally built by the Spanish conquistadors as a mission in the 18th century to convert the native Americans to Christianity. As the wars between the United States and Mexico progressed, the chapel was alternately occupied by both forces and used as a stronghold. In 1863, under Texan occupation, the Alamo was attacked by a troop of around 1,500 soldiers who laid siege to the building and ultimately killed everyone inside. The tales of the barbarity of the Mexican soldiers have led to rumors of the Alamo being haunted; rumors that were inflated by reports of inmates hearing and seeing inexplicable apparitions and sounds when the Alamo was later converted into a prison. Today, it is Texas’ biggest tourist attraction.
2) Port Arthur, Australia
Located on the diminutive island of Tasmania, off the mainland’s south-east shore, Port Arthur originally served as a penal colony (a sort of microcosm of its own country). It was home to the only the most hardened and dangerous of British fugitives; having first been sent to Australia, if they re-offended there, they would be carted off to Port Arthur. It was marketed in a similar way to Alcatraz in the States; as an unescapable island prison. This was proved wrong by three men over its history, who all escaped unharmed. The conditions at the prison were reportedly so bad that some men would be driven to murder (punishable by death), rather than endure living there longer. In 1996 the surrounding town became the location of Australia’s worst mass-murder since they gained independence; a tragedy which only served to deepen the legend that the place is haunted and cursed. Port Arthur remains Tasmania’s top tourist attraction and ghost-hunting tours of the prison are regularly offered.
3) Bhangarh Fort, India
Listed as the only legally recognized haunted place in India, Bhangarh Fort is closed off to all visitors, regardless of race or rank, during darkness hours. On the gate hangs a sign which reads, “Entering the borders of Bhangarh before sunrise and after sunset is strictly prohibited. Legal action would be taken against anybody who does not follow these instructions.” This is apparently because the city is both cursed and haunted; either by a neighboring despot or a jilted occultist, depending on which legend you believe. Either way, it’s actually illegal to enter the ruins at night so the Indians must believe something very bad went down there.
4) Greyfriars Kirkyard, Scotland
In 1999, a homeless person tried to escape the unforgiving Scottish climate by breaking into the mausoleum of former Lord Advocate George Mackenzie, a reputably cruel and sadistic man. The vagrant fled the crypt, covered in inexplicable bruises and complaining of an icy presence inside. Between 1990 and 2006, there were 350 reports of paranormal attacks on visitors to the graveyard and 170 reports of people collapsing. In 2000, an exorcist was summoned to the crypt to rid it of all evil spirits; he was unsuccessful, claiming the powers were too great for him, and just weeks later, he died of a heart attack. As a result, the mausoleum has been closed off indefinitely; and although ghost tours do pass through the Kirkyard, none go inside Mackenzie’s crypt.
5) Eastern State Penitentiary, USA
Another former prison, the Penitentiary incarcerated inmates between 1829 and 1971. Afterwards, it was converted into a museum and attracted many a ghost-hunter, with numerous accounts of ghostly sightings. Indeed, during its time as a jail, many of the inmates, including the notorious gangster Al Capone, reported paranormal activity within its walls. The Atlantic Paranormal Society visited the compound in 2004 and concluded the place was in fact haunted; something which the local authorities wasted no time in capitalizing upon. These days the museum hosts yearly Hallowe’en attractions known as “Terror Behind the Walls”.
6) Château de Brissac, France
The tallest castle in France, the Château looks like something out of a fairy-tale at first glance. However, it harbors a dark and disturbing past. It is believed that in the 15th century, Jacques de Breze, grand seneschal of Normandy, married Charlotte of France, half-sister of King Louis XI, and the pair lived in the castle. The marriage was not a happy or a faithful one, however; and upon discovering Charlotte and a lover in his bed, Jacques promptly murdered both, in a brutal manner; he allegedly stabbed Charlotte over 100 times with his sword. To this day, there are reported sightings of “The Lady in Green” wandering the castle with only gaping abscesses where her eyes and nose should be.
7) The Forbidden City, China
As if its name wasn’t scary enough, this city was also the imperial palace for the Emperor of China from the Ming Dynasty in 1420 up until the end of the Qing Dynasty in the 20th century. It has such a name because no-one was allowed to leave or enter unless with express permission from the Emperor; the rule seems to apply to ghosts equally. Modern-day visitors to the Palace Museum have often complained of spotting murdered concubines roaming its streets after nightfall.
8) RMS Queen Mary, USA
As well as hosting some incredibly illustrious passengers in its time in service, such as Winston Churchill and Greta Garbo, the RMS Queen Mary is rumored to have also accommodated some less so welcome guests. After being permanently docked in California in 1967, the ship became a museum and before long visitors reported sightings of paranormal apparitions on its decks. In 2008 Time Magazine voted the ship as one of the top 10 most haunted places in America, and as well as seeing visions of a murder victim and unlucky crewmen who lost their lives through accident, tourists have claimed to have heard the voices of children coming from the empty nursery.
9) Highgate Cemetery, England
One of the largest and most famous cemeteries in London, Highgate is home to over 170,000 graves, among them Karl Marx, George Eliot and the family of Charles Dickens. In the 1970s, the cemetery entered the media limelight because of the so-called “Highgate Vampire” scandal, in which two occultists named David Farrant and Sean Manchester competed against each other to vanquish what they believed was a vampiric specter haunting the graveyard. Both received much publicity from the story and wrote books on the vampiric theme.
10) Corvin Castle, Transylvania, Romania
However, the most famous book on that particular theme has to be Bram Stoker’s classic, Dracula. Many believe the character of Dracula was based on real-life Romanian ruler Vlad the III, better known as Vlad the Impaler. It is also rumored that Vlad was imprisoned in Corvin Castle by the Hungarian regent John Hunyadi for 7 years after his deposition in 1462. The castle itself has been the site of many inexplicable apparitions stalking the corridors and battlements at night; reports vary from vampire-like figures in Vlad’s own ilk to the impaled victims from whom he earned his gruesome title.