Sorry to break it to you, but your cemetery down the street has nothing on the truly creepy places in the world. Sure, some of the top places to get chills down your spine do include dead bodies (or decomposing Voodoo fetish bodies, but hey, still counts). But many of the super-eerie spots in the world aren’t graveyards: Some are ruins that show the fall of civilizations in the most macabre ways.
Some are spots known for certain unexplained and unnerving activities, like dogs and birds committing suicide. All of them are guaranteed to give you the shivers, so strap in and get ready to explore some of the creepiest places around the world and what makes them that way.
1. British Sea Forts
These rusted sea forts are just the right mix of decay and creepiness – despite their origins as a defensive perimeter.
These Maunsell army sea forts were indeed set up for defense in the long past, when the threats of invasion from World War II were very real. The problem is, after the war ended no one could find a purpose for these towering forts in the Thames Estuary, so they were left to rust over long decades.
Now they stand like decaying sentinels, creaking on long metal legs plunging into the river depths like some kind of steampunk nightmare. If nothing else, they make for great artistic imagination, but there’s no getting away with how foreboding they are.
2. Hanging Coffins of Sagada
This cliff of coffins is a vertical graveyard, unlike anything you’ve seen.
Hanging coffins is truly no exaggeration: The Igori tribe of the Philippines started this traditional long ago for stacking coffins against a cliff wall, which became so common the cliffs quickly became an incredibly eerie vertical graveyard.
There are several reasons for burying the mummified dead in air coffins – their spirits were closer to heaven, for example, and their bodies are safe from corrupting wet soils and animal attacks (bird nests are apparently a lesser threat). However, we have to wonder how often one of those rickety coffins comes spilling down.
3. Catacombs of Paris
The underground catacombs of Paris hold six million dead and are literally made of bones.
The catacombs of Paris solved several problems, including a severe lack of graveyard space during plagues, and a need to use the vast numbers of mining tunnels under the city. The result was moving a vast amount of skeletons into the mining tunnels, which were transformed in catacombs holding around six million bodies.
And transformed is a literal term here – the catacombs are built out of entire walls of bones and skulls, often stacked in decorative patterns and winding on in labyrinths for miles. It may sound terrifying, but it’s also a very popular party location for the Paris youth – of course.
4. Bird Suicide Grounds of Jatinga
Here birds regularly commit suicide by driving themselves into the ground.
There are simply certain areas around the world that are famous for birds accidentally committing suicide, and Jatinga is one of the them. At certain times people wake up to find that birds – sometimes dozens of them – have run into the ground, buildings, trees, and other obstacles, hard enough to leave them dazed or dead.
The birds span all different kinds of local species, as many of 44 different kinds. It’s probably due to a particularly bright section of the village confusing birds and causing them to fly toward search lights and hit the ground when blinded, but that doesn’t make it any less creepy.
5. Hellingly Hospital
Despite a good reputation, the ruins of this mental asylum exude an atmosphere of eeriness.
There’s nothing like a creepy hospital/mental asylum to really get the goosebumps going, and if the place is called Hellingly, well, so much the better. This asylum was located in the UK, East Essex County, and was known for its isolated location and massive, towering wings.
It was used for almost 90 years throughout may different asylum fads, but was generally known for its quiet, kinder approach to treating asylum patients. However, after being abandoned the ruins suddenly switched paths and became very, very creepy, as well as a favorite spot for adventurous vandals.
6. Fire Mummies of the Philippines [Kabayan Mummy Caves]
These mountain mummies are carefully dried out with smoke and fire before being stored in wooden coffins.
It doesn’t get much worse than climbing through mountain cave ruins and coming across hidden mummy boxes filled with fire-dried mummies centuries of years old. But that’s just what happened in the Timbak caves.
Tribes around this area would salt bodies and set them over fires to dry them out, when blow tobacco smoke into the inside of the body. The bodies were placed in wooden coffins that looked a bit like cradles and sealed high up in mountain tombs. The Filipino government has kept the locations of all these caves a close secret to prevent looters and other problems.
7. Aokigahara Forest
This beautiful forest hides a growing multitude of suicides…with many bodies never found.
This deep Japanese forest has a horrible reputation: It has been a favored place for suicides for decades, and continues to be a popular spot for everyone from students to businesses to wander into and kill themselves.
There’s no way that all those bodies could be found, so there’s always a chance that you may wander across a corpse when exploring this otherwise beautiful forest – especially for the workers hired to clear out the outskirts of the woods. The juxtaposition is a startling and horrifying one, and is likely to grow even worse as time passes and the number of suicides increase.
8. Prague’s Old Jewish Cemetery
This Jewish cemetery is a monument to the triumphs and terrors of European Jewish history.
This is the third oldest Jewish cemetery in Europe, and definitely one of the saddest. The systematic murder and oppression of Jews happened long before the Holocaust, and here we see the whole history of the Jews in Europe, marked by periods of great opulence as well as intense sadness.
The tombstones have grown so crowded and old that they now jut in all directions. Jews were not allowed to bury their dead in other cemeteries, and traditions forbade moving the bodies, so these graves remain, the famous and the paupers alike.
This Japanese island houses an entire town complex that is now decaying into ruins.
This is a most famous and very desolate Nagasaki island that went through several different famous historical phases. At one point it was a mining area and an entire mining community developed on the island – it even served as a prison for a certain amount of time, and the entire village was surrounded by an intimidating wall.
Now the entire island lies empty and the apartment complexes are broken down, falling inevitably into ruins. It’s eerie and somehow spectacular at the same time…and is becoming an increasingly popular tourist attraction.
This once booming resort town became part of a warzone and has been deserted ever since.
Varosha has a fascinating and melancholy history. This resort area had a famous history for decades leading up to the 1970s, but after the division of Cyprus the area, once a booming tourist area with incredible beaches, was left a warzone.
It has remained an eerie, secluded area where no one is legally allowed to visit, and grand old rooms and resort buildings slowly fall into ruins. Now some of the most beautiful beaches in the world face empty, slowly collapsing hotels, and ransacked houses…and doesn’t look like things will be changing anytime soon.
11. City Hall Subway Station
This famous New York subway station saw only a few decades of use before shutting down.
New York City has a number of abandoned subway stations which, for one reason or another, have been walled up or fallen into disuse because of changing city plans. The City Hall station, opened in 1904, is one of the most famous and includes incredible archway architecture and plaques dedicated to the builders and investors.
However, the station was doomed to close only a few decades later when subway cars were updated. Now the station remains empty and ghostly, a forgotten heirloom to the past. You can take a tour if you are a member of the MTA Transit Museum.
12. Ruins of Detroit
The ruins of Detroit are a famous photography site and a sign of lost prosperity.
Every city in the world has a certain number of ruined buildings, but no city in the United States has attracted artists and photographers quite like Detroit. The ruins here look like something from after the apocalypse, complete with symphony halls falling to pieces, long-abandoned hotels and theatres, famous business headquarter decaying into ruins, and much more.
Detroit is famous for its boom and bust cycle, where the auto industry in particular has gone through vast periods of growth followed by periods of retraction, leaving opulent buildings to fade during the aftermath.
13. Matsuo Ghost Mine
This Japanese mining town is made of old ruins shrouded in fog.
Let’s visit yet another Japanese mine, this one perhaps even more creepy. This town was located high in the mountains to might sulfur, housing around 15,000 people and known as a cloud city for the fogs that often surrounded the entire village.
Even today the ruins can be difficult to find if the clouds have rolled in, and the old buildings are often half-hidden and easy to get lost in if you are not prepared for the journey. The town was abandoned very quickly in the 1960s, leaving many of the rooms still intact.
14. Ghost City of Fengdu
This ghost town has become a theme park for the underworld in the creepiest way possible.
This famous City of Ghosts started off very creepy, with 2,000 years of history as a ghostly, enchanted place that eventually became associated with the underworld and all manner of deaths and demons.
However, more recently it has becoming a booming attraction filled with the strangest carvings, buildings, and exhibits you will ever see, stuck somewhere between “carnival” and “horrifying.” Of particular note is the giant death’s head carved into a rock at the top of the nearby ridge, known as the Ghost King. China takes its ghost towns seriously, it seems.
15. Winchester Mystery House
The Winchester House reached seven stories by the time it was completed, all thanks to the eccentric Sarah Winchester.
This is one of the most famous “haunted” houses in the world, and certainly one of the most peculiar to experience. Located in San Jose, California, the house began getting weird in the 1880s when widow Sarah Winchester (according to urban legend) came to believe that if she ever finished building her manor, she would be haunted by all the spirits killed by Winchester rifles.
Sarah decided to buy the ranch house and start building it, but never stop. She consistently ordered new projects day and night, complete with windows looking into other rooms, doors or stairs going nowhere, and many more oddities.
16. Isla de las Munecas
Nothing to see here, just an island covered with dying dolls.
Take a visit to this warm island, and you will find the trees covered with dolls – not just any dolls, but often decapitated, limbless or eyeless dolls, which are there by the thousand. It all started with a crazy island hermit who began crafting the dolls, possibly to appease the spirit of a drowned girl.
It was such an oddity that people continued to visit the island, and eventually started adding dolls of their own, and now the whole island is festooned with them. It’s definitely one of the creepiest places in the world to visit if you find dolls disturbing.
17. Ryugyung Hotel
This modern hotel in North Korea has actually been an empty, broken shell for almost 30 years.
While the outside may look beautiful and modern, this is the epitome of a ghost hotel. Located in North Korea, the 105-floor hotel was meant to be a testament that the other Korea could build big shiny things too.
Construction has gone on for nearly 30 years without a completion date, leaving 103 empty, unused floors in a place where no one is ever rich enough stay. Frankly, at this point North Korea might have to pay people to visit, because that shell of a building is rumored to be quite disturbing.
This town in Transylvania has some serious vampire connections.
This Transylvanian town is filled with ancient beauty dating back to the 12th century and includes amazing mountainside villages and a towering church. It also happened to be the birthplace of Vlad Tepes. You may know him better by his title, Vlad Dracula.
Yes, here the legend that inspired the name Dracula originated, and the land is often associated with the start of the most famous vampire myth – all those ancient European houses and towers really help. While there’s no evidence that Stoker drew inspiration directly from Vlad Tepes himself, it’s easy to imagine Sighisoara as the infamous town at the beginning of Dracula the novel.
19. Staten Island Tugboat Graveyard
The shells of dead tugboats make up this isolated river heap.
If you peruse the Arthur Kill waterway, by Staten Island, you may notice what looks like a mound of metal walls and spikes rising from the waters. This is the famous tugboat graveyard, known for being the final resting place for decades and decades of dead tugboats.
Here they have been left to rot and rust away in the water, often unknown by any but the most intrepid explorers and Junkers. There used to be hundreds of tugboats in this graveyard according to some accounts, but now there is only a few dozen as many have been scavenged for metal and parts. So, a graveyard twice over, really.
20. San Zhi Resort
This lost resort combines an alien ghost town with a haunted graveyard.
Here we head over to Taiwan, where a famous “pod city” was created to be a fun, futuristic resort for U.S. soldiers back in the 1970s. And yes, there really are floating pod rooms built like giant saucers: It’s pretty strange. The project was barely even completed before the whole thing was abandoned after a business crash, and it has been untouched since.
The result is a collection of strange building filled with broken windows – not just a ghost town, but an alien ghost town. There are also rumors that it is haunted, due to a lost Dutch burial ground somewhere beneath the resort.
21. Beelitz Military Hospital
This mansion-like hospital once treated Hitler, but now lies in abandoned, haunting ruins.
Here’s another hospital on the list, this one perhaps even more eerie and unwelcoming than the others. You see, not only has this massive hotel manor been almost completely abandoned, it also served as a hospital for people like Hitler and Honecker in World War I, leaving not the best of legacies.
This isn’t your normal hospital, either: The decaying ruins include stained statues, crumbling murals, and vastly overgrown gardens. It’s basically an evil mansion and an evil hospital combined, but there’s still a lingering beauty about the place, as long as you don’t spend too long in the shadows.
This town is frozen in time and left to nature after the Chernobyl explosion.
You may not have heard of the city of Pripyat, but you are sure to have heard of Chernobyl. This famed Russian nuclear place, now located in Ukraine, saw disaster strike in 1986 when an explosion caused radiation to leak out over the surrounding area. The entire place was immediately evacuated and sealed off, including the nearby city.
Now it lies in ruins, perhaps the most untouched city in the world – because the radiation levels are still dangerously high in areas. The entire town is quite literally frozen in time after the blast.
23. The Sedlec Ossuary
This church is designed with bones in ways you wouldn’t believe.
It’s for good reason that this location is known as the Church of Bones. While the Catacombs of Paris are lined with bones, they aren’t nearly so artistic as this church, which is covered with human bones as if they were the only decorating items at hand.
There are intricate designs, wall hangings, towers, and walls all made from bones and skulls. Even holy items used in church are constructed from bone whenever possible. The main reason? This church was so popular (due to a blessing from the founder, who began the foundation with soil from the grave of Christ) that the number of people who wanted to be buried there far exceeded the capacity.
24. Takakonuma Greenland Park
This Japanese park was abandoned, and the forest quickly reclaimed its territory.
Now we head on over to Japan once again, to visit a truly spooky amusement park. You see, back in the 1970s someone thought it would be a good idea to build an amusement park in the isolated, often cold forests north of Tokyo. Unfortunately, it only lasted for a couple years before it was shut down – accordingly, to some rumors, because of accidental deaths.
It managed to open again off and on but was eventually closed forever in 1999. Now the swift-growing forest has almost entirely taken the park over, leaving the disturbing remains of amusement machines lost amidst the trees.
25. The Overtoun Bridge
This bridge is a favorite destination…for dogs committing suicide.
Can a single bridge be one of the creepiest places on earth? It absolutely can if it’s the Overtoun Bridge, which is known, of all things, as being a dog suicide location.
Multiple witnesses have seen dogs jump off the bridge and even jump off a second time if they survived. There are no particularly tasty treats at the bottom of the bridge, it just manages to attract dogs and compel them to jump off and die. If that’s not amazingly eerie and unsettling, we’re not sure what is. Maybe don’t take your dog to Scotland, just to be on the safe side.
26. Actun Tunichil Muknal
These Mayan bodies are preserved forever in stone.
Well, now this is just disturbing. First, the Mayans sometimes sacrificed children and teenagers to their gods. Second, “living” caves have dripping water than slowly calcify their surroundings over centuries and build up layers of rock. Combine these two facts and you get this incredible cave, the final resting place for the sacrifices.
The bodies were positioned so that stone would slowly cover them, eventually turn the skeletons into vague and haunting outlines of rock, preserved forever where they were set. Such is the Crystal Maiden, possibly the most famous sacrifice in the group.
27. St. George’s Church
The ghostly statues in this church are forever hooded, frozen, and faceless.
St. George’s church used to be a simple, quaint church in Lukova, a Czech city with an ancient history. The church had seen its share of fires, ransacks, and revolutions, and was basically just a small sanctuary with a couple rows of wooden pews. But then a sculpture student called Jakub Hadrava chose the spot for his new sculpture project…which is frankly a little terrifying.
Now the church pews are dotted with ghostly, hooded statues, bent forever in contemplation or standing as though giving unheard arias. They are all shrouded like the grim reaper himself, and if you try peering under any of the hoods – you see nothing at all.
28. Akodessewa Fetish Market
This market specializes in the creepier kinds of Voodoo fetishes, especially when it comes to pieces of dead animals.
This may not be what you think of when it comes to a fetish market – but remember, a fetish was originally a shamanic symbol of power, and here at Lome the largest Voodoo market of fetishes is held. Not all talismans are creepy, but most of them are, because favorite fetishes include the skulls and bodies of everything from goats and gazelles to leopards and monkeys, in various states of decay.
As you can imagine, gathering hundreds and hundreds of dead animal bodies in one place for Voodoo can create quite a stench, so this market is not for the faint of heart.
29. Hill of Crosses
This hill has more than 100,000 crosses, placed there over centuries.
The Hill of Crosses of Lithuania isn’t exactly terrifying, but it does exude an air of sadness and morbidity. Here the first crosses were set up in the 1800s, and more and more crosses were added with each war and rebellion as people from nearby areas came to add their own mementos.
Soon the hill began to look like a rise cornfield made entirely of crosses and confused, narrow pathways. It’s estimated that there are more than 100,000 crosses there today – that makes for quite an experience, but any site that’s been visited by the Pope can’t be that scary.
30. Chauchilla Cemetery
Grave robbing ruined this ancient site long ago, but the restoration is even creepier than the original.
This Peruvian cemetery is unnerving even now, although it has been the subject of grave robbing for centuries. You see, grave robbers were so eager for ancient jewelry that they just left the bodies strewn around this ancient location.
Now the bodies, skulls, fabrics, and loose odds and ends have been arranged in apologetic shrines here and there around the site. The result is far creepier than the mummified remains could have been before. If you have always wanted to walk with the mummies, this may be the best place for you.