Special Wanderlust Guides Halloween Edition
With Halloween right around the corner, it’s the perfect time for visiting the scariest, and most haunted places in the world. While some may be okay with haunted houses are filled with costumed ghouls, goblins, and monsters, there are several spots around the globe with real reputations for being truly haunted. Whether you're a believer or not, there are towns all over the place that are filled with spooky stories passed down through generations. No matter where you are in the world, there’s probably a haunted house, hotel, or old historical site filled with unsettled souls just waiting for you to visit. From haunted ships to islands of disturbed looking toys, we've pull together a list of 5 of the spookiest spots in the world to visit.
1. ISLAND OF THE DOLLS - XOCHIMILCO, MEXICO
Isla de las Munecas, or the Island of Dolls, is a small island with a tragic history and a spooky present. Located on Lake Teshuilo in Xochimilco not far from Mexico City, the island is one of the creepiest, haunted locations in the world and deserves number one on our list. It’s most notable feature is the hundreds of terrifying, mutilated dolls adorning the trees, fences and nearly every available surface.While it’s appearance is chilling, it’s beginning is quite innocent and sweet, dedicated to the lost soul of a young girl who met her fate too soon and in mysterious circumstances.
The story begins with a man named Julian Santan Barrera, a loner who sought to live out his days in solitude and moved to island in the 1950’s. Julian was walking along the river bank when he came across the body of a young girl drowned in the canal. Later discovered a doll floating in the same waters and, assuming it belonged to the deceased girl, hung it from a tree as a sign of respect. But shortly after Julian claimed the he began hearing anguished screams of a woman and the sounds of footsteps running through the woods in the darkness
He claimed that the girl began speaking to him and became convinced that the young girl's spirit has been unable to leave the island and had taken possession of the doll. To appease her spirit and protect himself, he began collecting the dolls, often selling off goods so that he could purchase them for her to play with. For the next 50 years, this ritual would continue until just about every corner of the island was “decorated”. Julian later told his nephew that it was becoming more difficult to appease the young girl’s thirst for these dolls and was paranoid that she wanted him to join her in her watery grave. Soon after this discussion, his nephew was returning to the island when he found his uncle drown in the same canal that had started Julian's madness. Today, tourists flock to the island and often speak of the doll’s eyes following them while others report that the mutilated dolls whisper to them at night.
2. THE QUEEN MARY, LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA, USA
A former luxury ocean liner and war ship nicknamed the "Grey Ghost," the Queen Mary that sailed primarily in the North Atlantic between the 1930’s to 1960’s and was purchased by the city of Long Beach in 1967, transformed into a hotel. Today, it’s regarded as one of the most haunted hotels in America, and with the vast array of paranormal and creepy experiences that have been reported there, it’s hard to argue. In the ship’s heyday it was known for its elegance, class and style and set a new benchmark in transatlantic travel as the only civilized way to travel.
In its maiden voyage on May 27, 1936, the Queen Mary disembarked from Southampton, England with a reported five dining areas and lounges, two cocktail bars and swimming pools, a grand ballroom, a squash court and even a small hospital.When World War 2 started, her transformation into a battleship had begun. She was painted a camouflaged grey color and stripped of her luxurious amenities. The Queen Mary was rechristened as the "Grey Ghost" because of her stealth and stark color.
At the close of the war she underwent a 10 month reconstruction and is now a popular tourist attraction in California with a meal and a guided tour around the ship's haunted hot spots costing up to $109. The ship has so many haunted areas, that it’s hard to know where to start with as many as 150 spirits thought to be lurking around the ships many rooms. Among the ghosts reportedly still hanging around are a sailor who died in the ship's engine room, a "lady in white," and children who drowned in the ship's pool. The figure of a woman in white has been seen in the Queen’s Salon. Sightings of a gentleman in a formal suit in the First Class suites. In Cabin B340 there have also been a lot of paranormal reports, however, this isn’t available for rent any longer. Whether this is to do with the experiences that have been reported there or for very different reasons, is not known. Other phenomenon occurring throughout the ship, are the sounds of distinct knocks, doors slamming and high pitched squeals, drastic temperature changes, and the sensation of being touched or grabbed.
3. CHâTEAU DE BRISSAC, BRISSAC-QUINCé, FRANCE
This towering building is known as the ‘tallest castle in France’, and was built in the 11th century. During the French Wars of Religion, which broke out during the 16th century, the château was taken over by Henry of Navarre (later known as Henry IV of France). One of the most infamous residents of the Château de Brissac is the ‘la Dame Verte’ or Green Lady. She is said to be the ghost of a woman by the name of Charlotte de Brézé, the illegitimate daughter of King Charles VII. In 1462, a marriage was arranged between Charlotte and Jacques de Brézé, a nobleman. It is said that with the marriage politically motivated, the two did not love each other had quite different characters.
In 1477, Jacques returned from a hunting trip, had dinner with his wife, and then went to his own separate room when, in the middle of the night, a servant woke Jacques to inform him that his wife was sleeping with another man by the name of Peirre de Lavergne. Jacques caught his wife and her lover red-handed, and in a fit of rage, murdered the couple in her bed. Soon after, Jacques moved out of the château claiming he could not stand the moaning of his late wife and her lover’s ghosts. Today, visitors claim to have seen Charlotte's ghost as a roaming the halls.
4. CASTLE OF GOOD HOPE - CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
The Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town, South Africa was built in the 17th century by the Dutch East India Company as refreshment base for ships and help maintain the monopoly over the Spice Trade and is the country’s oldest colonial building. The first of many reported paranormal occurrences dating back to 1915 is the apparition of a tall man seen jumping off the side of one of the castle walls and walking between two of five of the bastions, Leerdam and Oranje.
Believed to be the ghost of Pieter Gysbert van Noodt who died on 23 April 1728. The very same day he had sentenced to death seven soldiers who were caught attempting to desert the military. Legend says that one of the soldiers van Noodt had condemned had placed a curse on him and demanded he came to watch the execution. He ignored the soldier and was later found dead, slouched over his desk with a look of terror on his face. Another famous haunting is the ghost of a soldier who was found hanging from the bell rope in the bell tower in the 1700’s. After his death, the bell tower was sealed off, however, to this day the bell has been known to strike off its own accord.
There’s also been reports of a black dog who has been known to pounce on unsuspecting visitors, then simply vanish into thin air and a “Grey Woman” running through the halls crying hysterically. Over the past few centuries, a number of seafarers have come forward with reports of strikingly similar sightings of a ghoulish ship sailing in the wild waters around the tip of Cape Point on stormy nights. According to the stories, rowboats filled with phantom men into the ocean and they approach passing ships with letters that they want delivered to their loved ones can be seen in the moonlight. The accounts have been linked to the tale of a vessel called the Flying Dutchman that was caught in a storm near Cape Point while journeying to Holland from Indonesia in 1641 and is doomed to sail the stormy seas forever and the tale goes that whoever crosses its path will meet an untimely death.
5. TOWER OF LONDON - LONDON ENGLAND
This landmark of London has an extensive history of torture and execution dating back almost 1,000 years and is the one of most haunted places in the UK. It was originally built in 1078 by William the Conqueror to be a political prison and execution house. Throughout the next several centuries the tower would serve as an armory, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal family, a public record office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of England.
The peak period of the castle's use was as a prison was the 16th and 17th centuries, when many public figures had fallen into disgrace, such as Elizabeth I before she became queen, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Elizabeth Throckmorton, were held within its walls. This use has led to the phrase "sent to the Tower". Over the years there have been countless reports of paranormal activity including the ghost of Anne Boleyn, the wife of King Henry VIII who was beheaded in 1536. Her headless body has been seen wandering the Tower’s corridors and the location of death carrying her head.
Two children have also been witnessed in their nightgowns, holding hands and with a look of terror on their faces. They are believed to be two former Prince’s, locked in the Garden Tower (also referred to as the Bloody Tower) after they were deemed illegitimate by Parliament. One day the children mysteriously vanished and after two small skeletons were exhumed beneath a staircase in the White Tower, it is believed that they were murdered by order of their uncle, the Duke of Gloucester. Today the tower is open to the public and offers historical as well as haunted guided tours.
Every culture has its own tales of spirits and spooks dating back hundreds of years. Take a walk down the creepier, darker path this Halloween with any of the these haunted destinations and more to be discovered all around the world. Start earning towards your next spooky adventure by completing fun and easy offers for travel gift cards with the Wanderlust Rewards app, available free for download in the Google Play Store and the Amazon App Store.