Introducing our creepiest list yet: 20 Real Torture Dungeons You’ll (Not) Want To Visit! For anybody who spent time looking into human history, it quickly becomes clear that our species has a nasty habit of being cruel to each other.
For doubters, there’s nothing that will get that point across as easily as our long and brutal record of torture. Although the techniques and motivations might change depending on the location or period of time, torture chambers existed.
Uncovered in nearly every human civilization that has walked the earth, people believed in the power of pain. That being said, a couple of historic groups took things even further. They created horrifying prisons that still bear the marks of the atrocities that were committed there.
So, without further ado, we present our list of 20 real torture dungeons you’ll (not) want to visit.
Tokat Castle Dungeon
Also known as “Dracula’s Dungeon,” the dungeons of Tokat Castle in Turkey consist of numerous secret tunnels and prisons that lie beneath the castle.
It’s believed that it was in one of these tunnels where Vlad the Impaler was held. He was the man who would become the inspiration for the vampire Count Dracula in Bram Stoker’s novel (with the same name).
He was imprisoned and tortured at some point during the early 15th century. The castle is currently undergoing restoration and will soon be open to the public.
San Marco Evangelista
The Church of San Marco in Osimo, Italy. It is a Roman Catholic church that, despite still holding regular worships, has covered up a terrible secret, literally.
Once upon a time the church was home to a pozzo delle lame, a well of blades where prisoners would be thrown down to suffer a slow and painful death.
Warwick Castle Dungeons
Warwick Castle is a medieval castle in England built atop a system of brutal underground dungeons. It’s believed to have once held a number of prisoners from the Battle of Poitiers during the Hundred Years War.
To this day, Warwick Castle is considered one of the most haunted places you can visit. Its reputation is capitalized by the touristy “Castle Dungeon” museum. The ghastly room is located in the original dungeons.
Interestingly, reenactments with live actors take place there on a daily bases, showcasing the creepy activities that took place inside those walls.
Oratorio dei Disciplini
Located in the town of Clusone in Lombardy, Italy, the Oratorio dei Disciplini was once home to a brotherhood of religious individuals who were known as the Disciplinati, or “The Disciplined.”
These Disciplinati would seek ways to absolve themselves of sin through torture and self punishment, believing that by experiencing the pain of Christ first hand they would have a better understanding of god.
Overlooking the ruins of the ancient Roman forum, the Mamertine Prison was once used to hold prisoners of the Roman Empire before their execution.
Among its list of prisoners are a number of notable figures such as Vercingetorix the leader of the Gauls and the Jewish revolutionary Simon Bar Jioras, as well as the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, who were held there preceding their crucifixions.
The Tower of London
Despite torture never being officially permitted under English law, the history of the imprisonment, torture, and execution that took place in the Tower of London during the 16 and 17th centuries is extensive and well documented.
One of the most well known of prisoners held within the Tower of London, none other than Guy Fawkes, the man behind the failed gunpowder plot assassination, was tortured so badly he lost the use of his hands following his imprisonment.
Built by the Bithynia Kingdom approximately 2,500 years ago, these ancient dungeons still send a cold shudder down any spine.
Incredible, and disturbing artifacts, recently unearthed in 2017, have told us a lot about the violent history and methods of torture in the region. They are located in the northwestern Bursa Province in Turkey and are currently part of a UNESCO World Heritage location.
The Abbey of Saint Mercuriale
The Abbey of Saint Mercuriale in Forli, Italy today sits at the heart of the city and serves as a peaceful place of worship for the locals.
That wasn’t always the case. During the medieval era, this location was one that, while just as holy, was anything but peaceful. After its completion in 1180, the abbey was the location of public executions. Lawbreakers were beheaded with an ax in front of crowds sometimes numbering in the hundreds.
CIA Black Sites
Black sites are CIA run prisons that are used to detain and get information out of alleged enemies of the United States. These include individuals with suspected ties to terrorist groups.
Due to the secretive nature of the CIA, the exact number and conditions inside the prisons are unknown. However, they are believed to exist on every continent.
Those who have seen the inside describe them as some of the saddest and most hellish locations imaginable.
If you were to visit the Rocca Malatestiana castle tomorrow, you would be happy to know that the scariest thing you might come across would be the agricultural museum held within one of the towers.
You might also be surprised to learn that this castle is, in fact, one of the most haunted places in Italy.
Deep in its basements exists an underground room that was once the location of some of the worst torture atrocities ever. This room was called the Sala delle Torture, the “hall of tortures.”
It is said that visitors can still hear the screams of the tortured souls stuck inside.
Sitting comfortably in the middle of the old town of Ghent, Belgium, the Gravensteen is a medieval castle that is so well known for the tortures that took place there that it has its own torture museum.
In this exhibit, visitors can see the various mechanisms and tools that would have been put to use in the dungeons of the castle; including stretching racks, body cages, and spiked collars.
These devices added to the infamous thumbscrews process were used to slowly crush a prisoner’s fingers over the course of hours.
This 13th-century Czech fortress has spent much of its long history as a prison, holding everything from protestants and political dissenters to prisoners of war.
It’s most gruesome history was the period of time during World War 2, during which it was under the control of Nazi forces who used the castle to hold and torture their enemies.
Silo-mazmorra Grande del Secano
Over 20 dungeons have been uncovered surrounding the famous Alhambra fortress in Granada, Spain, but the most notable of them is the massive “Silo-mazamorra Grande del Secano.”
This 20-meter wide subterranean cavern would not only have once been a place to store spices and grains, as the name suggests but also a place to keep imprisoned enemies of the state while they were awaiting trial or execution.
The only entrance and exit was a hole in the roof of the dungeon, which would have only been accessible via a ladder or rope.
H. H. Holmes' Hotel
Often referred to as the “Murder Castle,” the World’s Fair Hotel in Chicago was actually an elaborate cover for one of the most notorious and gruesome serial killers in history; H. H. Holmes.
The hotel consisted of a number of dead-end halls, secret passages, and over 100 rooms filled with deadly traps and chutes that led directly to the basement and were definitely not for laundry.
Holmes would eventually be caught before the hotel could open, but not before he kidnapped, tortured, and executed countless people within the building. It would later burn to the ground 1895, but a United States post office built in the foundation of the horrific hotel has since become somewhat of a landmark for any tourists seeking a macabre thrill.
Chillingham Castle Dungeons
At first glance, Chillingham Castle in Northumberland, England may appear like any other fairytale or storybook nostalgia.
However, deep in its halls lie unimaginable horrors. This castle contains a network of prison cells and torture rooms that are known for being some of the most brutal in England’s history.
Most of the inmates held there during the 13th and 14th centuries were Scottish soldiers, working under the command of the revolutionary William Wallace. Unsurprisingly, records show that many women and children were kept and tortured for information and ransom during the period as well.
Colonel Bailey's Dungeon
This dreary dungeon in Srirangapatna, India was designed with a cruel twist.
It was filled with cold, waist-deep water that would force prisoners to stay on their feet or else they would drown.
The water forced them to be deprived of sleep for days. It was named after Colonel Bailey, a British commander who perished within the dungeon alongside many of his soldiers in the late 18th century.
Once the most terrifying castle in all of England, visitors to Pontefract Castle today won’t find much more than ruins.
That’s not to take away from this castle’s dark history of torture, however. Prisoners of Pontefract Castle were kept in dark, damp cells and tortured daily.
Many of them even carved their names into the walls which can still be seen today by visitors taking a tour of the ruined castle’s surviving cellars.
The castle was also the setting and inspiration for the Shakespeare’s “Richard III,” after the real King Richard who was likely executed in the castle’s dungeons in the early 15th century.
Palace of the Inquisition
Located in Cartagena, Colombia, this fortress was used as one of the headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition during the 18th and 19th century.
Although breathtakingly beautiful from the outside, inside the walls of this palace was one of the most terrifying and torturous prisons in history.
Of the more than 800 people who were tried for heresy at the palace, all were found guilty after days of nonstop torture forced them to confess.
The Bug Pits of Zindon Prison
Of the many terrible ways one can perish, imagine this horrifying scenario. You’re left to starve in an inescapable pit while hundreds of creepy crawlies are poured over your head. Yeah, that sounds dreadful and that’s exactly what the bug pit does.
Unfortunately for many British soldiers in Bukhara, Uzbekistan this was exzactly how they would end up going. Left in what came to be named the “Bug Pits,” prisoners were left bound for sometimes years on end while bugs, scorpions, and even rats were dumped on their heads from small holes over their heads.
There is so much mystery surrounding the Ashoka’s Hell that separating the stories from what’s real is nearly impossible. According to the legends, the torture chamber was disguised as a beautiful and luxurious palace.
It tempted people to enter, however, those that succumbed and walked through the doors would be punished through some of the most horrific tortures imaginable.
The tortures, some of these insane torturing methods included boiling prisoners alive and the covering of their bodies in molten metal.
The gruesome methods apparently came from what the prison’s creator, the Indian emperor Ashoka, saw while visiting hell!