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Haunted Places of the World

Updated on June 13, 2014
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A treacherous murder, a tragic accident, or a bond to the living world that not even death can break. All the ingredients of a classic haunting.

Of course, there is as yet no scientific evidence of a haunting; and what evidence there is usually depends on rumour, conjecture, and eyewitness accounts that cannot be corroborated. Such hauntings often have a chilling tale attached, the purpose of which is to explain the strange nature of events; though sceptics will more readily attribute any ghostly activity to misinterpretation, hallucination, and the power of suggestion.

Either way, the "haunted house" continues to inspire the imagination. After all, everyone loves a good ghost story. Here's a few of the world's most famous haunted locations.

Borley Rectory

Borley Rectory 1892
Borley Rectory 1892 | Source

Having earned itself the illustrious title of “most haunted house in England”, Borley Rectory is sure to feature on any list of famous haunted locations. Legend claims that it was once the site of a Benedictine monastery, and a forbidden love affair between a monk and a nun. When their love was discovered, the monk was hanged, and the nun buried alive in the walls of her convent.

The story has no historical basis, but such tales arise from the area's sinister reputation. It started in 1863, when Reverend Henry Bull and his family began hearing unexplained footsteps and tapping sounds in their newly established rectory (locals had apparently warned Reverend Bull that the site was haunted).

By 1930, a series of occupants had reported similar occurrences, drawing the attention of a Psychical Researcher and amateur conjurer named Harry Price. The rectory's residents at the time - a Reverend Lionel Foyster and his wife Marianne - wrote to Price about the strange activity they were witnessing, which was of greater intensity than what had been reported by previous occupants. Marianne claimed to have been thrown out of her bed during the night, and their adopted daughter Adelaide had found herself locked inside a room with no key.

The Foysters fled the house in 1935, and Price decided to move in with a team of paranormal investigators. In 1938, they claimed to have made contact with two spirits; a woman named Marie Lairre, and a mysterious entity identifying itself as Sunex Amures.

Marie Lairre had lived in a manor house on the spot now occupied by the rectory, but had been murdered by her husband, who had then hidden her remains in the cellar. The other spirit, Sunex Amures, reportedly told the psychic conducting the seance that the rectory would burn down that night, revealing said remains.

The rectory did indeed burn down, albeit 11 months later than predicted. Harry Price arrived to search the now exposed cellar, and discovered the bones of what he believed to be a young woman (though the nearby Parish insisted they belonged to a pig). The bones were given a Christian burial at Liston churchyard, and it seemed as if the mystery of the Borley Rectory haunting had finally been solved.

Some time later, an investigation conducted by the English Society for Psychical Research concluded that Harry Price - who by this time was deceased - had falsified most of the evidence related to the haunting. It was therefore impossible to tell which of the reported events were genuine paranormal occurrences.

Stanley Hotel

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Situated in the Colorado Rockies, the Stanley Hotel famously inspired Stephen King to write his classic horror novel “The Shining”. The author and his wife had spent a night in the notorious Room 217 – one of several ominous room numbers in a hotel that is reputed to host an assortment of ghostly denizens.

Faces have been seen peering out of windows in unoccupied rooms; and Freelan Stanley, who founded the hotel in 1909, has been spotted wandering the halls. The Earl of Dunraven, who sold Stanley the land, supposedly haunts room 407; but it's Room 418 that has the ghostliest reputation among hotel staff. Guests who have stayed in the room claim to have heard the sounds of children playing in the corridor, deep into the night.

Tower of London

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Considering the amount of historical figures who have met mysterious ends in the Tower of London, its reputation for ghostly sightings comes as no surprise. King Henry VI died whilst imprisoned in the tower - possibly of natural causes, but most likely on the orders of rival claimant King Edward IV; and Edward IV's two young sons - the 'princes in the tower' - were never seen again after being escorted there under orders from their uncle, Richard III.

Other famous victims of the tower include Queen Ann Boleyn and Margaret Pole, both of whom were executed by Henry VIII on what were most likely false charges. Margaret Pole's beheading was a particularly brutal affair, as the clumsy headsman reportedly botched the execution, requiring several blows to sever the poor woman's head from her shoulders.

All are said to haunt the area. The sounds of two children playing have been heard in the tower, and a woman believed to be the ghost of Anne Boleyn has been sighted wandering the grounds - sometimes carrying her head. The ghost of Margaret Pole appears on the anniversary of her death, blood streaming from the many wounds caused by the headsman's axe.

Parisian Catacombs

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Somewhere in the vast network of tunnels that lie beneath the streets of Paris, there's a stone portal with an inscription above it that reads “Arrête! C'est ici l'empire de la Mort (Stop! Here lies the Empire of Death)”. It marks the entrance to a section of the catacombs that was converted into a large underground tomb during the 18th century.

By that point, mass graves in central Paris were overflowing with human bodies that had been insufficiently buried, posing a serious threat to public health. The solution was to move the bodies to an abandoned quarry on the outskirts of the city. For years, covered wagons accompanied by chanting priests transported human remains to their new resting place, where the bones were stacked neatly in piles on the ground or in the walls.

The result is indeed an empire of death. Anyone who stumbled upon this section of the catacombs would think they had just wandered into the lair of some dark cult. The bones are arranged in patterns, as if to warn intruders or make some kind of macabre artistic statement. What's more, these monuments to death comprise the remains of about several million individuals.

But with so much history in the Parisian catacombs already, and so many stories to tell; having a few million more buried in its walls only serves to enhance its ghostly atmosphere.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle from Ross Fountain in Princess Street Gardens
Edinburgh Castle from Ross Fountain in Princess Street Gardens | Source

Edinburgh is regarded as the most haunted city in the world, with the castle being just one of the many locations that have earned it this reputation.

One famous ghost story about the castle claims that a piper was sent to explore the tunnels beneath it, assured that the music of his pipes would allow those following him to trace his movement. But deep within the tunnels, the music suddenly stopped, and the piper was never seen again. The sound of his bagpipes can still be heard echoing through the hallways every now and then.

The tunnels are in turn connected to an underground network beneath the Old Town section of the city, where many other haunted locations are situated. One of the more famous ones is Mary Kings Close, an abandoned street where victims of the Black Death were boarded up and left to die. Visitors to these areas have reported sudden drops in temperature, strange sounds or sensations, and a feeling that they were “being watched”

Bhangarh Fort

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Located in the northwest region of India, the town of Bhangarh has been completely deserted for centuries. A famine in 1783 is believed to have caused its downfall, but legend has it that a sorcerer’s curse is the true source of its ill fortune, brought upon the city when an arrogant Mughal prince built a palace so high that its shadow intruded on the sorcerer’s forbidden refuge.

Now it's said that any house built in the area collapses; that the sorcerer is buried somewhere in the valley and his influence can still be felt; and that anyone who remains in the city after dark never returns. Its reputation is such that the Indian Government has barred anyone from entering between sunset and sunrise.

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      Mikyung 2 years ago

      03/11/2012 at 1:00 amit was good reading other pepole experiences at borley, I started doing reseach there 35 years ago,at my first visit I was just seventeen, I have been back there many times and stayed during the night making recordings, I was there two years ago, the place was so calm, it was a lovely day out, but no paranormal activity, it make me angry to see so called ghost hunters had left beer cans in the church gounds, idiots, stop being so stupid, no wonder the church is locked with idiots like you roaming free. Anyway going back to the more sensible involved in paranormal research I have had three conclusive experiences there, that has made me plan a further decade of research, god permitting of course, I will be investing in the latest paranormal meters and a good old fashioned EMF spirit light, minus the magnetic ring gimmick, to date I have photographed a hand 4ft in front of camera, witnessed build up's of electrical energy with a drop in termpreture, resulting in a large electrical crack, extremely loud witnessed by both myself and former home office employee, everything then returned to an uncanny calm, this took place at the rear of bugalow end of nuns walk, won't say what the other thing was as this may scare some pepole. I have had some other good experiences at a church near where I live, similar to the one described by those using the board, entity followed me all the way home, entered house slamed door, again lot's of electicity in the air, disipated after slaming open door violently, leaving me breathless on the verge of heart attack, who say's ghosts can't be dangerous, nor for the faint hearted. Will let you know my results in many moons, got used to them now they don't scare me as much as they used to. I know there's things go on at Borley, but at the moment they are unexplained as many of you confirm. hope to hear more stories. Happy hunting, night night, all.

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      Sombreritos 2 years ago

      11/11/2012 at 7:47 pmEvening all, I just wanted to let you know about my eienrxepce when I visited. I was working nearby at Clare and decided to have a look at Borley as I have had an interest in the tales and history of the rectory.It was about 1500hrs, and I pulled up outside the church to get my bearings.There were cottages nearby. From the time I pulled up,turned ignition off and leant to get my phone from the passenger seat (literally seconds) I had the fright of my life as a little old lady had appeared from nowhere at my drivers side window. I didn't see her anywhere when I pulled up, and if she had managed to get from the cottages to my car in that short space of time, she must have ran! Was very eerie. I wound down window, and she asked if I was lost. I told her I just wanted to see where the Rectory stood, and she got very angry, telling me its a myth, and nothing happened. I was quite taken aback as I was very pleasant. I apologised and got myself ready to go, started car. She went. I didn;t look to see where she went, but I was really freaked out. Disgruntled local? probably, but how did she get to my drivers side window that quick?! And she didn't even tap on the window, Just stood there staring.I drove away thinking, was she real? Far fetched I am sure you are thinking, but just wanted to share it.Was a strange moment.Nick

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