Haunted Places on Earth
The Haunted Island of Poveglia, Venice
Poveglia is a tiny island near Venice off the Italian coast with a dark, ominous history. This island has served many a sinister role – a mental asylum, a disposal area for plague victims and a quarantine station. The island has been deemed as too scary by the Italian government and has been declared off limits for tourists.
On first glance it looks like any other abandoned location, a desolate landscape dotted with crumbling buildings. However, stroll around and its dark past slowly unravels itself in the form of strewn human bones and plague pits.
When the Black Plague ravaged through Italy in 1576, widespread paranoia led to anyone showing the symptoms to be dragged out of their house and shipped to the island. They were thrown into pits with rotting corpses and left to die a horrible death. Despite its grizzly past, a mental asylum was sanctioned to be built on the land. Soon after, the patients reported seeing ghosts of plague victims, but no one believed them as they were already labeled clinically insane.
The asylum was run by a mad doctor who frequently tortured and conducted crude experiments on his patients. Many years later, his sinister acts piled within him an intense guilt; he climbed the massive bell tower and jumped himself to death.
The ashes from more than 160,000 burned bodies has rendered the soil with a dark, silvery hue; it’s believed that 50% of the soil on the is human ash. Though the island is declared ‘not visitable’ by travel guides, you can sneak a visit if you are willing to find a boat operator who is gutsy enough to take you the location.
The Murder House in Villisca, Iowa
In 1912, the Moore family comprising of Father, Mother and their 4 kids were brutally murdered by an axe wielding maniac. The killer hid in a closest in the kid’s room and unleashed a ruthless bloodbath once the family had fallen asleep. The killer was never convicted and the case was eventually closed in 1917.
The house has since undergone numerous restoration but a dark, mysterious aura lingered in the premises. Guests who have spent the night at the house have woken up to the ghost of a man holding an axe staring at them from across the room. Others have reported hearing children’s laughter, knives flying through the air and cupboards opening and closing on their own.
The house has been investigated by numerous paranormal and ghost hunting groups who have concluded that the spirits of the family members and the killer have taken up residence in the house. The Villisca Axe Murder house is currently owned by Darwin and Martha who have opened it to public tours. Overnight Tours are conducted from March to November every year and are charged at $400 for a group of 6 people.
Aokigahara Forest, Japan
Aokigahara or the Sea of Trees is a dense, dark forest at the foot of Mt.Fuji, infamously referred to as ‘The perfect place to die’. Due to its geographic location, there is total absence of wildlife and zero wind movement; rendering the forest eerily silent all times of the year. Compasses cease to work within the forest due to the iron rich rocks and thanks to the canopied trees; you will have a hard time figuring out where you are headed.
Aokigahara holds the notorious position of world’s second most popular suicide spot after San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Since 1950, more than 500 people have entered the forest, never to return. The area is filled with uplifting signboards like ‘Think of your Parents’ and ‘Suicide is not the answer’! Many believe that the spirits of the people who committed suicide have permeated the trees in the forest and hence the increased paranormal activity in the area. And strangely enough many trees in the area seems to have strange naturally, formed motifs on their barks.
The forest is regarded as one of the seven gates of hell supposedly spread across various locations on earth. The thick canopy of trees renders most part of the forest pitch dark even in high noon. It is highly recommended that visits to Aokigahara be made during the day, especially if you don’t fancy sleeping with the lights on for the rest of your life.
Isla de las Munecas, Mexico
The Isla de las Munecas is a tiny island on the Teshuilo Lake, between Mexico City and Xochimilco. The island is adorned with thousands of decrepit and badly mutilated dolls which hang from fences and trees. Legend has it that three young girls were playing in the area and one of them accidentally drowned in the canal. Visitors to the area started encountering the ghost of the deceased child and one man, Julian Santana became obsessed with the spirit that he decided to live on the island. He created an altar on the island, and started bringing in discarded dolls as an offering to the spirit.
Santana maintained a large garden of fresh produce and the locals started trading in discarded dolls for fruits and vegetables. This led to massive increase in the number of dolls and now the island has more than thousand dolls in various stages of decay. In 2001, the story took another gruesome turn, Julian Santana was found dead – drowning in the same canal, just like the little girl. Many visitors have claimed that they could hear the dolls whispering to them and were beckoning them to come closer.
While Isla de las Munecas might come across as extremely creepy and even morbid at first glance, the island is witness to an uplifting story of how one man’s desire to honor a child brought together an entire clan of locals into sharing the same spirit. Getting to the Island of the Dolls is a long and arduous journey, but strolling around the island, with thousands of soulless eyes watching you is an experience like no other.
The Mines of Paris
The seemingly endless, twisting maze of tunnels beneath Paris should not to be confused with the Catacombs of Paris, although the Catacombs do form a part of the network (1.7 kilometers). This massive network (280 kilometers) of mines were used to dig out minerals from the city's sediment (the spot where Paris was submerged for millions of years), and all that remains are the tunnels. Today, the mines are closed off and the government has imposed heavy fines for anyone venturing into the maze. Despite the ban, the mines are frequented by urban explorers, spelunkers, grafiti artists and the odd thrill seeking youth.
Today, the mines are in a state of disarray and is utterly desolate. The mysterious nature of the mines have conjured up urban legends about ancient cults and creatures that roam the depths. There are stories of spirits that dwell in the shadows and if one were to survive the entire length, they will reach the gates of Hades. Even if you are to sideline these as folklore, the tunnels hold plenty of very real and deadly set of obstacles. The tunnels stretch almost 600 kilometers below the streets of Paris and much of it is unmapped. It is almost impossible not to get lost within this intricate maze.
Most of the passages are hundreds of feet below the ground and some of them are so narrow you will have crawl through them. There are blind holes that are a few meters deep and unreachable manholes scattered all around the maze which makes it a literal death trap. To make it worse the eeply intricate maze absorbs any sound created within, rendering any calls for help utterly futile. The walls of the tunnels are adorned with weird paintings which further adds to the eerie atmosphere. Anyone planning a trip down Parisian Mines would do well to bring plenty of water, a powerful flashlight, extra batteries, a friend and maybe a crucifix. They will need them all!
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