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Haunted house attractions around Halloween can be scary and fun, but they’re not enough to satisfy dedicated followers of the paranormal. After all, what’s a jump-scare compared to the lingering spirit of a long-departed person? If you’ve ever found yourself wondering, “What are the most haunted places in the world?” the following list is for you. We’ve compiled some of the spookiest places on the planet, but beware: These haunted destinations aren’t for the faint of heart.
1. Lizzie Borden House
On August 4, 1892, Andrew Borden and his wife, Abby, were brutally murdered in broad daylight, and Andrew’s daughter, Lizzie, became the prime suspect. Though Lizzie Borden was acquitted of the crimes, she remains an infamous figure.
Today, the Lizzie Borden House in Fall River, Massachusetts, is a bed-and-breakfast and museum. The owners insist that the property is haunted; visitors have reported mysterious voices and footsteps, strange odors, and apparitions. Ghost tours and ghost hunts are available, and brave souls can even stay in the room where Abby Borden met her demise.
2. Leap Castle
When it comes to haunted castles, Leap Castle in County Offaly, Ireland, is home to surprisingly benevolent spirits. Built around the 16th century, Leap Castle is notorious for its time under the rule of the O’Carroll clan. Many murders were committed here, including that of a priest in what is now known as the “bloody chapel.”
The property’s owner, Sean Ryan, does not consider the spirits to be malevolent. Visitors are welcome to contact Ryan for a private tour, during which they may hear unexplained footsteps or crowds speaking, or see apparitions like the Red Lady.
3. St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum
One of the most iconic sites in St. Augustine, Florida, is the town’s 165-foot lighthouse, completed in 1874. The lighthouse is an important part of St. Augustine’s history as a seaport, which began in the 16th century. But the structure is also known for its paranormal properties.
The lighthouse is said to be haunted by a number of wandering souls, including those of three children who drowned when a supply cart flipped into the water during construction. The lighthouse offers a number of different ghost tours to satisfy any spirit seeker.
4. Hashima Island
Located off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan’s Hashima Island was once densely populated with laborers who excavated coal from undersea mines. The mines operated from 1887 to 1974, when the island was promptly abandoned. A symbol of Japan’s industrialization, the island also has a dark history of exploiting the labor of World War II-era prisoners. Unsafe working conditions led to numerous deaths.
Today, the dilapidated island is open for guided tours, though the concrete buildings’ interiors are off-limits for safety reasons. Visitors have reported hearing eerie voices belonging to miners whose spirits remain on the island.
5. The Driskill
Completed in 1886, the Driskill is a spectacular example of Romanesque revival architecture, and its opulent halls have hosted inaugural balls and high-profile election watch parties. According to believers in the supernatural, this hotel in downtown Austin, Texas, is also a hot spot for paranormal activity.
One popular ghost story claims that a child died chasing a ball down a staircase. Guests have reported hearing unexplained child’s laughter and a ball bouncing. Another spooky tale is that of the hotel’s “suicide brides”: two brides who took their own lives in the same room exactly 20 years apart.
6. Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Located in Louisville, Kentucky, Waverly Hills Sanatorium was a hospital for patients suffering from tuberculosis. Built in 1910 and expanded in 1926, the sanatorium could accommodate more than 400 patients. Before the tuberculosis vaccine became available, treatment for the disease ranged from fresh air to electroshock therapy.
Thousands of people died at the sanatorium, and underground tunnels were built to transport the deceased away from the eyes of other patients. Today, the property offers Halloween events, public tours, and private overnight experiences where guests may see or hear evidence of restless souls.
7. Hoia-Baciu Forest
Some of the scariest places on earth aren’t hidden inside creaking houses or drafty castles; they’re in the open air. Situated in northwest Romania, the Hoia-Baciu Forest is populated with spooky, twisting trees that grow everywhere except for one mysterious clearing.
The forest has become a popular tourist attraction thanks to its purported paranormal properties. Stories of disappearances, alien encounters, and even portals to other realms have fueled the forest’s mystique. People who have walked through the forest have reported sudden feelings of unease or illness, unexplained flashing lights, and more.
8. Eastern State Penitentiary
Opened in 1829 in Philadelphia, Eastern State Penitentiary was considered groundbreaking for its use of complete solitary confinement. While this isolation was torturous, punishments were also cruel and included placing prisoners in freezing temperatures, excessively tight bindings, and painful iron gags. The prison eventually abandoned the solitary system due to overcrowding.
Several prisoners died of disease, suicide, or murder, and today the prison is considered one of the most haunted places in America. Curious ghost seekers can explore the penitentiary via daytime history tours or night tours. The site also hosts Halloween events.
9. Château de Brissac
France’s Loire Valley may shelter one of the most haunted places in the world. Originally built in the 11th century, the Château de Brissac was acquired and renamed by the Duke of Brissac during the 17th century, and his descendants still live on the property. Though the castle has been rebuilt more than once, a centuries-old ghost lingers.
In 1477, Jacques de Breze discovered his wife, Charlotte, with her lover, and killed them both. Known as the Green Lady, Charlotte still roams one of the towers today. Visitors can look for her by booking a guided tour of the château.
10. Island of the Dolls
Just off the coast of Mexico City is an island populated by hundreds of decaying dolls. More than 50 years ago, Don Julian Santana relocated to an island where he supposedly found a drowned child and her doll. The man spent the rest of his life collecting dolls, which he displayed to honor the child’s spirit.
Santana’s drowned body was discovered in 2001, but people still flock to the island to see his legacy. Some say that the girl’s spirit still haunts the island, so keep an eye out for any moving dolls.
11. Edinburgh Castle
Of all the castles that are haunted around the world, Edinburgh Castle might be the most recognizable. The castle is Scotland’s most popular tourist attraction and a truly iconic sight. Human settlements have existed on the volcanic Castle Rock for more than 3,000 years, and the castle’s origins date back to the 12th century.
Book a tour of the castle to try your hand at ghost spotting. Notorious spirits here include a piper boy who can still be heard playing his bagpipes, a headless drummer boy, and prisoners captured during various wars.
12. Villisca Ax Murder House
In the small town of Villisca, Iowa, a horrific crime was committed sometime between the evening of June 9 and the morning of June 10, 1912. All six members of the Moore family, along with two houseguests, were bludgeoned to death. The case remains unsolved.
The house was built in 1868 and has been renovated to its 1912 condition. Daytime tours of the house are available, but visitors looking for paranormal evidence can also opt for an overnight stay. Overnight guests have reported moving objects, slamming doors, disembodied voices, and other spooky signs.
13. Aradale Mental Hospital
Originally called the Ararat Lunatic Asylum, this facility opened in 1867 in the Australian colony of Victoria in order to accommodate an increasing number of criminally insane and mentally ill patients. The sprawling, 40-hectare facility closed in the 1990s, but some believe that spirits still reside within its halls.
The asylum saw thousands of deaths and employed drastic treatments such as electroshock therapy and lobotomies. Today, the property plays host to ghost tours and paranormal investigations that show visitors why Aradale is considered one of the most haunted places in Australia.
14. Fairmont Banff Springs
From the outside, the Fairmont Banff Springs in Canada’s Banff National Park resembles a castle against a majestic mountain backdrop. The interior of the 1888 building is just as beautiful, but some visitors get the feeling that certain guests never checked out.
If you choose to stay in this elegant hotel, be on the lookout for a host of apparitions. Among the most famous are the spirit of a bride who glides along the staircase and inside the ballroom, and the ghost of Sam the bellman, who helpfully moves luggage even after his death.
15. La Recoleta Cemetery
Situated in Buenos Aires, Argentina, La Recoleta Cemetery was inaugurated in 1822 and houses many elaborate mausoleums and famous interments, including Eva Peron and a granddaughter of Napoleon. But, as with many cemeteries, alongside the beauty there is also the eerie.
One of the spookiest stories is that of Rufina Cambaceres, a 19-year-old girl who was pronounced dead in 1902, only for cemetery workers to find her coffin lid ajar and scratched days later. And if you hear the jingle of keys, they may belong to a gravedigger who worked here for 30 years before taking his own life.
16. Castle of Good Hope
Built in the 17th century, the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town, South Africa, is the oldest existing colonial building in the country and a prime example of a Dutch East India Company fort. The pentagonal fortress served as headquarters for the military for 200 years.
The fortress housed prison cells during the Second Boer War, and voices and footsteps can still be heard in the dungeons. Sometimes the belltower’s bell rings on its own. Other apparitions include a man leaping from the walls and a ghostly black dog roaming the grounds.
17. Ancient Ram Inn
The small English town of Wooten-under-Edge hides an unassuming building that might just be the world’s most haunted place. The Ancient Ram Inn is at least 800 years old and has been a vicar’s home, a pub, and an inn before assuming its current identity as a paranormal location.
The building supposedly sits on a pagan burial ground, and a recent owner claimed to have found evidence of devil worship and gruesome sacrificial rituals. The inn is also connected to a legend of a witch burned at the stake, so spirits are in abundance at this spooky site.
Oddly enough, ghost towns aren’t often considered to be among America’s most haunted places. The West has many former mining towns that now stand eerily abandoned, but Bodie, California, is home to a curse.
Bodie is kept in a state of arrested decay, and state park rangers claimed that a curse would befall anyone who removed anything from the ghost town in order to discourage theft. Since spreading the “curse,” employees have received scores of returned items in the mail along with letters recounting the visitors’ recent misfortunes. Curse or coincidence? Bodie may harbor a paranormal presence after all.
19. Zvikov Castle
If spooky castles are on your travel wish list, Zvikov Castle in the Czech Republic is a great choice. Situated on a steep promontory at the confluence of two rivers, this medieval fortress is a bit of a trek, but its architecture and supernatural happenings are worth it.
The castle’s imposing tower is supposedly home to an imp who causes strange events to occur, such as the sudden extinguishing of candles, odd animal behavior, and technology malfunctions. Furthermore, legend has it that anyone who sleeps in the tower is destined to die within a year.
20. Monte Cristo Homestead
If you’re seeking a real haunted house in Australia, look no further than the Monte Cristo Homestead in New South Wales. Built in 1884 and restored with era-appropriate furnishings, this mansion bills itself as “the most haunted house in Australia.”
The homestead is haunted by the original owner’s wife, who became a recluse upon her husband’s death. Other spirits include a maid who suffered a fatal fall from a balcony and a stable boy who perished in a fire. Both daytime tours and evening tours are available, giving visitors plenty of opportunity to glimpse multiple ghosts.
21. Lawang Sewu
Once word starts spreading about places that are haunted, it’s difficult to squash down the myths. The city government in Semarang, Indonesia, has made efforts to minimize the haunted reputation of Lawang Sewu, but tales of the landmark’s paranormal properties refuse to die.
Completed in 1907, Lawang Sewu was built by the Dutch East Indies Railway Company. The Japanese army seized control of the building in 1942, but Indonesian nationalists reclaimed the city in 1945. A subsequent attack by the Dutch resulted in multiple deaths that further fueled the ghost stories about fallen fighters and prisoners within Lawang Sewu.
22. Borgvattnet Vicarage
Located in the forests of central Sweden, the unassuming Borgvattnet Vicarage was built in 1876 and has been the subject of paranormal claims since 1927. Multiple priests have admitted to chilling encounters with spirits over the years, and as a result, the vicarage is considered the most haunted building in Sweden.
Today, visitors can book individual rooms or the whole vicarage for overnight stays. Past reports of ghostly behavior include objects moving on their own, shadowy apparitions, and disembodied voices. Not convinced? A “ghost priest” attempted to cleanse the vicarage of malevolent spirits in the 1980s, but he left unsuccessful before the year was out.
Easily one of the top 10 most haunted places in the world, historic Savannah, Georgia, is so full of spirits that it’s impossible to single out any one establishment as being more haunted than others. Civil War battles, organized crime, and tragic accidents resulted in deaths, and it seems that many of the souls decided to stay put in the city.
A ghost tour is an ideal way to fit several haunted spots into a short amount of time, and luckily, Savannah offers a wide variety of paranormal tours. Maximize your chances of glimpsing a ghost by prioritizing the following haunted hot spots: Moon River Brewing Company, Wright Square, and the Kehoe House.
24. Bhangarh Fort
Located in Rajasthan’s Alwar district, Bhangarh Fort is considered the most haunted site in India, so much so that entry after sunset is prohibited by law. Built in the 17th century, the sprawling fort encompassed a small town during its heyday, complete with palaces, temples, and elegant residences.
Today, the fort is a collection of well-preserved ruins, and locals recount several legends to explain the site’s abandoned state. One story, for example, involves a holy man who vowed to destroy the fort should any of its tall buildings cast a shadow upon his own home.
25. Poinsett Bridge
Built in 1820, Poinsett Bridge, the oldest bridge in South Carolina, is a lovely stone structure complete with a 15-foot Gothic arch. In daylight, the bridge presents a charming photo op against the lush Poinsett Bridge Heritage Preserve. It’s a different story once the sun sets.
After dark, the bridge is a magnet for paranormal activity. Some people have claimed that their cars stalled or refused to start after nightfall. Flashing orbs of different colors, unexplained voices, and even menacing physical presences have also been reported. There’s no consensus about the origin of these ghostly occurrences, which only adds to the bridge’s mystique.
From haunted mansions to sinister castles to unsettling abandoned hospitals, the world is full of places seemingly swarming with spirits. And these destinations can interest those who don’t believe in ghosts, too, since supernatural sightings often stem from significant historic events. Whether you’re looking for an otherworldly thrill or just a plain good story, you’re sure to find fun (and maybe some fear) at these haunted spots.