It seems that one of the most enduring aspects of cultural similarity found throughout the world involves the supernatural. No matter where you go across the globe, you’re going to hear various legends and ghost stories…except some of these carry significantly more weight than your average campfire story. People seem to be somewhat obsessed with what goes on after death, especially in regards to whether or not the spirits of the departed stick around. It would be easy to say that such attention can be blamed on vivid, Hollywood inspired imaginations, but documented reports of supernatural disturbances go back several centuries in many places, underlining the fact that no matter the time period or society involved, the paranormal remains on people’s minds.
Sure, many places in the world that are reputedly haunted seem more far-fetched than realistic, but there are those that have a tendency to make even the most hardened skeptic stop and reconsider. Listed here are 30 such places spread out across the globe. Many mark the site of horrific and traumatic deaths, either due to murder or the effects of imprisonment within dungeons or mental institutions. It seems that the more sordid a locale’s history, the more paranormally active it is – and these places are certainly active! Most of the hauntings described here have been very well documented by paranormal researchers, thus cutting down in the stereotypical “spook ‘em” tendency that many supposedly haunted sites lean towards. If you’re easily rattled, you may want to rethink a read through this list, as these stories are every bit as haunting as the places they describe.
1. Monte Cristo Homestead, New South Wales, Australia
Considering the amount of tragic and violent deaths that have occurred here, it’s little wonder that this is viewed as Australia’s most haunted locale. Several people have died sudden, accidental deaths, while others have been murdered, leading to high paranormal activity throughout the estate.
2. Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town, South Africa
Active since the early 20th century, various apparitions reported include a man who walks the ramparts and a dog that jumps on passersby. The most interesting story involves the ghost of a woman seen running through the complex crying, and finally disappeared when excavations uncovered a woman’s body.
3. The Tower of London, London, England
Dating back to 1078, this fortress/royal palace has had plenty of time to garner some paranormal activity. Famous ghosts seen here include the headless ghost of Anne Boleyn, along with Lady Jane Grey and two princes believed to have been murdered by their uncle, Richard III, in 1483.
4. The Ancient Ram Inn, Gloucestershire, England
What could be more terrifying than the prospect of satanic sacrifices and malevolent entities? This 12th century inn exhibits all of this and more. Its owner even testifies that the first evening he spent in the house, he was snatched out of bed and dragged across the room by some invisible entity.
5. Banff Springs Hotel, Alberta, Canada
This major historic hotel is home to several different spirits, some kindly, and others rather more unnerving. A regularly sighted spirit is that of a former bellman who helps with guests’ luggage. Other such visitors include a bride seen dancing in the ballroom and the ghosts of a murdered family.
6. Chateau de Brissac, Maine-et-Loire, France
Dating back to the 11th century, this beautiful castle was the site of a horrific double murder, resulting in the haunting of the castle by the Lady in Green. Wearing a green dress, and her face that of a rotting corpse, wanders through the castle moaning.
7. Island of the Dolls, Xochimilco, Mexico
In the ‘50s, a man moved to this island in order to be alone, only to find that it was haunted by the spirit of a little girl who drowned here decades before. In an attempt to appease her, he bought countless dolls and hung them from the trees. After a while, he felt that she wasn’t satisfied, and that she wanted him to be a ghost with her. The same day he confessed this fear to a relative, he was found dead, having drowned in the same spot she did years before. Their ghosts can now be seen on the island, and the dolls are said to whisper as you walk past.
8. The Sallie House, Atchison, Kansas, United States
Named after the prankish little girl who haunted it, this house also contained a far more malevolent spirit of a woman who escalated so much in violence towards the male owner of the house that he and his family finally moved out of fear for his life.
9. McMenamin’s White Eagle Saloon, Portland, Oregon, United States
When it comes to the physical effects of hauntings, this century-old hotel and bar warrants heavy attention. Many guests have reported waking up in the night and being unable to leave their beds, as if held down, as well as being shoved down the stairs.
10. Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland
Considering that it sits on a site with human activity dating to the Iron Age, it’s little wonder that this castle has accumulated a few supernatural residents. Commonly reported apparitions include former servants of the castle, a drummer boy – minus his head – and a man who apparently perished within the castle’s tunnels.
11. Akershus Castle, Oslo, Norway
Built as a strategic fortress, used as a prison, and home to the site of Nazi orchestrated executions, this castle is a hotbed for the supernatural. The most well-known apparitions that haunt the castle and its grounds are a robed a woman and Malcanisen, a demonic dog whose sighting results in the traumatic death of the witness a few months later.
12. Old Changi Hospital, Changi, Singapore
Operating since the 1930s, this hospital was seized during the Japanese during World War II and turned into a prison and torture facility for the Japanese Secret Police. Many apparitions have been seen here, such as men and women wandering down halls and through rooms, children, and bloody Japanese soldiers.
13. Mary King’s Close, Edinburgh, Scotland
Hauntings here have been reported as far back as the 17th century, making this one of the most enduringly haunted places in the world. The Close is composed of a series of underground streets and tunnels that led to various businesses and homes in the 16th and 17th centuries. After plague broke out here it was abandoned, but apparently many spirits of plague victims and past residents still remain. Footsteps that seem to follow close behind are often heard, as well as disembodied voices and various apparitions, including a little girl named Annie.
14. Highgate Cemetery, London, England
Established in 1839, this cemetery is the final resting place for over 170,000 people and has been the site of numerous supernatural reports. The most famous siting is that of the Highgate Vampire, a tall man in a long dark coat and top hat with a terrifying gaze. Other apparitions include various dark figures, ominous glowing eyes, and a crazed old woman who runs through the graves and tombs apparently looking for the children she murdered.
15. Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh, Scotland
The main paranormal occurrences at this cemetery are attributed to what has been dubbed the Mackenzie Poltergeist. After Sir George Mackenzie’s mausoleum was broken into by a homeless man, extreme supernatural occurrences began to take place. Visitors would leave with scratches and bruises, sometimes even broken fingers, while it has been documented that, to date, nearly 200 people have blacked out at the cemetery since the mausoleum was broken into.
16. The Forbidden City, Beijing, China
Home to Chinese royalty for centuries, this impressive imperial complex was also the site of a long string of murders over the years, from calculated assassinations to crimes of passion. Many apparitions have been sighted by tourists, staff, and guards, ranging from former to concubines to supposed royalty.
17. Sai Ying Pun Community Complex, Hong Kong
Operating first as a nurse’s facility, and then as a mental asylum, this combination 19th and 21st century building has its fair share of haunts. The most notable apparition appears as a sort of devil in traditional Chinese clothes who bursts into flames. Other sightings report headless specters that roam the halls at night.
18. Aokigahara, Mount Fuji, Japan
For centuries, Aokigahara, or the Sea of Trees, has been a haunted place. Hundreds of people have committed suicide here, sometimes as many as 100 in one year. Those venturing out into the forest have reported encountering the spirits of these people, some of which aren’t particularly pleasant. Even Japanese folklore describes this as a place of demons.
19. The Myrtles Plantation, St. Francisville, Louisiana, United States
Most plantations have a checkered past, thanks to their association with slavery, but this 18th century plantation stands above the rest. Several occupants and their children have died here, either from disease or murder. It is also rumored that a slave was lynched here after poisoning some of the family. Several distinct apparitions are repeatedly seen here, either walking through the house or across the grounds.
20. Hell Fire Club (Montpelier Hill), County Dublin, Ireland
Used by the Irish Hell Fire Club in the early 18th century, this former hunting lodge was reputedly the site of various satanic rituals, including black masses and animal sacrifices. Its use by the club diminished after a mysterious fire. It is said to be haunted by former members of the club as well as being the domain of the devil.
21. The Skirrid Inn, Llanfihangel Crucorney, Wales
Apparently the site of numerous hangings over the centuries, this little inn in Wales sports a great deal of paranormal activity. Objects are suddenly thrown across rooms, apparitions are seen, and extreme drops in temperature are felt, along with the sensation of a noose slipping around the neck.
22. Rose Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica
The legend surrounding this former plantation house is that one of its owners used to practice voodoo, and that she used it to kill several husbands as well as numerous slaves. The house is now reportedly haunted by their spirits as well as hers.
23. St. Augustine Lighthouse, Florida, United States
Built in 1874, this still functioning lighthouse has become the home of several spirits over the course of its history. The ghosts of two little girls have been seen throughout the lighthouse, so too that of a woman, who is often seen and heard crying and asking for help, and a former lighthouse keeper who frequents the basement.
24. The Queen Mary Hotel, Long Beach, California, United States
Once a transatlantic ocean liner and now a permanently moored hotel in California, the Queen Mary has been touted as one of the country’s most haunted hotels, and taking into account its bevy of ghosts, it’s not hard to see why. Two different women drowned in the ship’s first class pool, and now their ghosts are often seen there. Various apparitions have been seen throughout the bar and lounge areas, most in period dress. One particular room, B340, displayed a great deal of activity, but is now no longer available. Coincidence?
25. Beechwood Lunatic Asylum, Victoria, Australia
Opened in 1867, this asylum was open to literally everyone, from patients admitted by family to those found wandering the streets and the criminally insane. For well over a century, this institution proved to be the final stop for many people before entering the afterlife, something some of them seem to have taken to heart. Several different apparitions have been reported here, from the cellars to the uppermost parts of the buildings. Disembodied screams are often heard, and heavy doors are seen to open and slam shut of their own accord.
26. Aradale Mental Hospital, Ararat, Victoria, Australia
In operation for over 130 years, this mental institution housed some of the British Empire’s worst mental cases and was known in its early years for inhumane psychiatric treatments and experiments. Thousands died here, and many of them have stayed behind in spirit form. Various apparitions have been reported, some of which watch people as they roam the extensive complex. The feeling of being touched as well as sudden sensations of pain are also reported.
27. Bhangarh Fort, Bhangarh, India
Built in the early 1600s by King Sawai Madho Singh, this fort protected a small city of roughly 10,000 people and included a royal palace. According to legend, a sorcerer fell in love with the King’s daughter and in the process of trying to seduce her, he died, cursing the town to be destroyed. Shortly thereafter, an invading army destroyed the fort and killed virtually everyone who lived there. Locals refuse to live anywhere near the ruins, and have ensured that it’s closed after dark due to the presence of various ghosts that have been reported roaming through the complex. There have been cases where people have been at the fort at night, only to turn up dead in the morning.
28. Chateau de Chateaubriant, France
Dating back to the 11th century, this castle has experienced a rather turbulent past, filled with war and murder. In the early 16th century, the wife of the castle’s owner died here, and many from that period all the way to today say that she was murdered by her husband due to her affair with the King of France. It is said that every October 16th – the anniversary of her death – a bloodstain appears in her room, and her ghost is often seen wandering the castle.
29. Paris Catacombs, Paris, France
Containing the bones of thousands of people, these catacombs were never really meant to house human remains. Due to overcrowded cemetery conditions in the 18th century, many remains were relocated to the spider-webbing tunnels beneath the city. While the bones are laid out in artful arrangements, stories of discontented spirits abound. Many people have reported seeing apparitions as well as being touched or shoved, and that some people have disappeared within the catacombs altogether.
30. Moosham Castle, Salzburg, Austria
This 12th century castle was the site of countless executions of women condemned of witchcraft throughout the Middle Ages. As a result, many of these women have come to haunt the castle in spirit form, with apparitions ranging from sad to angry ones, and even a few headless individuals. Many people report hearing voices and screams, as well as a particular spirit that tends to hound visitors in an attempt to make them leave.