A suicide forest, an isolated park with headless corpses, and a violent poltergeist that attacks cemetery visitors. As a Halloween treat, we’ve listed some of the most haunted places on earth. Of course there are plenty more spooky sites to be seen around the world – but these six definitely made us poop our pants a little bit.
1. Aokigahara, Japan (aka “The Suicide Forest”)
Stepping into Aokigahara forest, you know something is off right away.
It’s eerily quiet in the shadow of Mount Fuji. There’s hardly any wildlife or wind because of the murky thicket of twisted trees. Signs are posted that say, “Think of your family” and “Life is a gift from your parents.” Why is this forest so damn creepy?
It’s because people come here to die.
Known as “The Suicide Forest,” more than 500 people have killed themselves in Aokigahara since the 1950s. It’s such a problem that Japanese authorities do body hunts and remove up to 100 bodies per year – often corpses dangling from trees or fully clothed skeletons in the bush. But some bodies remain undiscovered for years…until someone stumbles across one.
Legend tells the forest is cursed with demons and angry spirits that roam the woods. Locals forbid their children from venturing into Aokigahara. Watch Vice.com’s “Suicide Forest” documentary, and consider if you would.
2. Lawang Sewu, Indonesia
With its name literally meaning “a thousand doors”, Lawang Sewu was built by the Dutch and overtaken by the Japanese during World War II. The basement of B building was turned into a prison, used to interrogate, torture, and execute inmates. Many ghost sightings have been reported here, including headless ghouls and a ghost of a Dutch lady who killed herself.
3. Salem, Massachusetts (USA)
In 1692, the Puritans went batshit crazy and started accusing each other of witchcraft. It was worse than an episode of Big Brother. Hundreds were jailed for sorcery, and 19 convicted people were executed. The Salem Witch Trials became the largest witch hunt in American history.
Centuries later, Salem is still haunted by the Witch Trials, with sinister sites scattered across town. Condemned spirits are said to roam the Witch House, the Lyceum Restaurant, the Joshua Ward House, and the execution site on the Summit of the Gallows.
Supposedly, the ghost of Giles Corey lurks in the Howard Street cemetery – but residents warn against ghost hunting. His spirit is a bad omen – apparently, every time Corey appears, a tragedy strikes the town.
Corey has good reason to be pissed off. Refusing to plead guilty, the Sheriff piled heavy rocks on top of Corey to elicit a confession. He was pressed to death after two days under the rocks.
But it’s Giles Corey’s last words that terrorize the townspeople today. Before being crushed to death, Corey uttered: “I curse you and Salem.” A few years later, the Sheriff died of a heart attack. This curse has spanned 300 years, with a rash of Salem sheriffs suffering heart attacks and blood ailments throughout the generations.
4. Castle of Good Hope, South Africa
Built by the Dutch East India Company, this 17th-century fort is the most haunted site in South Africa. People report seeing the ghost of Lady Anne Barnard, the ghost of a soldier who hanged himself, and ghosts of soldiers pacing the battlements. But the building was also used as a prison where inmates were tortured and executed. For soldiers on the night shift, it’s terrifying listening to their screams.
5. Greyfriar’s Kirkyard (Edinburgh, Scotland)
Is Greyfriars Kirkyard the most haunted graveyard in the world? Some people think so.
Within its stone walls, a violent poltergeist is reported to attack people: visitors have left the cemetery with bruises, scratches, bite marks, and burns. Some have passed out or gotten sick.
Most of the activity occurs near the Black Mausoleum and the Covenanters’ Prison, and once you know the history, you’ll understand why. The attacks are attributed to the ghost of George Mackenzie — a merciless judge who brutally imprisoned 1,200 Presbyterian Covenanters in an open field of the graveyard in 1679. Prisoners were tortured and executed and hundreds died of maltreatment. Conditions were so inhumane that the Covenanters’ Prison is often described as the world’s first concentration camp.
“Bloody Mackenzie” is buried in the Black Mausoleum in Greyfriars.There were two failed attempts at exorcism in Greyfriars – and one exorcist died a week later afterwards from heart failure. The City of Edinburgh was so fed up with all the shenanigans that it closed off Covenanters’ Prison from the public. You can only visit this section on the City of the Dead tour – read about about the experience here.
6. Nahanni National Park Reserve (Northwest Territories, Canada)
This tale makes Sleepy Hollow look like a cartoon.
Located in Canada’s isolated Far North, Nahanni National Park Reserve is considered a national treasure and has been the home for Dene peoples for thousands of years. It’s named after a mountain-dwelling tribe called the Naha, who lived here centuries earlier but mysteriously disappeared.
But it’s also a place where visitors disappear, and turn up headless.
For the past 100 years, decapitated corpses have been found discarded in Nahanni’s valleys. It’s been an ominous place since the first gold prospectors laid down their wagon wheels here.
The first victims were Metis prospectors Willie and Frank McLeod in 1908. According to the tale, their headless bodies were discovered tied to trees, with a note saying that the McLeods had found gold.
Next was Martin Jorgenson, a Swiss prospector. His skeletal remains were found next to his loaded gun and burned out cabin – without a skull. Shortly thereafter, a trapper by the name of O’Brien was found decapitated. In 1945, the body of an Ontario miner was found in his sleeping bag, head missing.
Names in the park pay homage to these terrifying stories and legends, such as Deadmen Valley, Headless Creek, Headless Range and the Funeral Range. With legends of haunted valleys and mountain-dwelling cannibals, along with reports of strange noises in the valley – Nahanni National Park Reserve is one place to be feared and loved.