Whether you’re a ghost hunter, a fan of being creeped out, or just an ordinary citizen trying to keep away from ghost stories, there’s plenty for you to enjoy in this list of the freakiest cemeteries in existence. Cemeteries all around the world bear an immediate creepiness factor just by being “cities of the dead”.
Whether it be the presence of mummified corpses or a tragic and traumatic death in the area, some of these cemeteries – the ones in this list – are made immensely more creepy and scary. Some have vampires roaming their grounds, looking to suck the blood out of you or local animals.
Some have spirits of the dead murdered in traumatic circumstances roaming the grounds, wailing at the top of their ghost lungs. (And there’s even a restaurant where you can dine among the dead.) Turn the lights off to up the creepiness factor and dig into this list of the 25 freakiest cemeteries that will creep you out.
Capuchin Crypt - Rome
Rome’s Santa Maria della Concezione Dei Cappuccini church has a slightly (thoroughly) morbid tinge to it. Beneath the main premises lies the Capuchin Crypt, the resting place for 3,700 Capuchin friars. The freaky part is how they’re resting: skeletons and skulls litter the walls of the crypts, making the spaces seem more like a madman’s sanctuary than a place of worship. Make sure to look up to see some bones in use as light fixtures.
Stull Cemetery - Kansas
Any Kansas resident will be familiar with the hauntingly creepy Stull Cemetery, believed by many to be the gateway to Hell. It’s said Satan and a human woman copulated and produced a son who is buried in the cemetery along with his mother. Locals report seeing lights at night which have yet to be explained and Satanic cults are said to use its grounds for rituals. The church on grounds lays in ruins, but if you knock on one of its former stones, it’s said Satan himself will respond.
La Noria - Chile
It should come as no surprise that labor laws weren’t as protective of the worker in the 1800s as they are today. Such was the case in northern Chile’s La Noria ghost town. Formerly a saltpeter mine, La Noria was the unwilling resting place of many victims of working accidents and poor living conditions, including many children. Many of the graves have been dug up and their coffins opened – some say by graverobbers looking for two rumored treasure chests in the area and others say it’s due to the spirits.
With the closest human settlement being a gas station 20 miles (32 km) away, the area can be pretty freaky after dark. Some people report hearing disembodied voices, seeing apparitions wandering the streets and approaching them, and hearing screaming from the area.
Glasnevin Cemetery - Dublin
Home to such famous Irish patriots as Charles Stewart Parnell, Daniel O’Connell, and Michael Collins, Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery was created as a place for Catholics to bury their dead. Bodysnatchers were so active in the early years that watch-towers were erected along a high fence surrounding the property and the guards patrolled with blood-hounds. If you visit, stop by the famous pub John Kavanagh’s next door, nicknamed The Gravediggers, as bar staff used to pass glasses of whiskey to the gravediggers through a secret hole in the wall.
Père Lachaise Cemetery - Paris
Père Lachaise Cemetery (meaning Father La Chaise, named after the priest who heard King Louis XIV’s confessions) in Paris is the resting place of such famous names as Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. Among the haunted specters which are said to roam its grounds are Holocaust victims, walking between the gravestones to find their own place to be laid to rest. A touching (thankfully, not literally) Memorial to the Dead and three World War I memorials also dot the landscape.
(More of a fun fact than a creepy fact: despite its distance from central Paris when it was built, the cemetery’s marketing team devised a clever strategy to bring in revenue, moving the bodies of famous French citizens such as Molière and Pierre Abélard to the grounds. The response was just as planned – Parisians began applying en masse to have their remains also buried alongside the famous corpses.)
Capela dos Ossos - Portugal
Similar to #25, Portugal’s student city of Evora also has a chapel filled with human remains. Larger than the Capuchin Crypt by a number of bodies (this one has about 5,000), the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) is the resting place for countless bones drawn from countless church cemeteries in the area. Built by a 16th-century Franciscan monk who wanted other Catholics to contemplate life as but a transitory step, the Capela dos Ossos also sports two desiccated corpses hanging from the ceiling on ropes.
Ganges River - Varanasi
The holiest river in the Hindu religion, the Ganges River begins in the Himalayas and flows 1,569 miles (2,525 km) to the Bay of Bengal. If a Hindu is cremated on the banks of the Ganges in the city of Varanasi and their ashes immersed into the holy waters (bodies are also dumped into the river), they are given instant salvation. With the number of bodies in the river, some wash up on the shore where they are devoured by dogs and flies. With the number of dead spirits in the area, it’s no surprise that many people report eerie feelings around its banks.
Old Jewish Cemetery - Prague
One of Europe’s creepiest and most historic cemeteries, the Old Jewish Cemetery is located in Josefov, Prague’s old Jewish Quarter in the Czech Republic. Per religious law, Jews are not permitted to destroy Jewish graves and especially are not permitted to take away a tombstone. Thus, when the Old Jewish Cemetery ran out of space for more bodies, they came up with a clever, though unsettling, way around the problem.
The soil was carted in and placed on top of existing graves whose tombstones were risen and placed on the top layer of soil. In all, the cemetery has twelve layers of graves with tombstones (12,000 visible though there may have been 100,000 burials) packed as tight as sardines on the surface level.
Catacombs - Paris
A tourist attraction for almost 150 years, the Parisian Catacombs are known as “The World’s Largest Grave”. Containing the remains of up to six million people, the Catacombs stretch below Paris’s streets. Bones and skulls are stacked up in a somewhat artistic fashion through corridors which seemingly go on forever, most of which are closed to the public for fear of cave-ins. Many paranormal sightings have been seen in this underground including ghost orbs and shadow ghosts patrolling the bones.
Resurrection Cemetery - Chicago
Two “Bloody Marys” are rumored to exist (three if you count the drink). The more well-known, Mary Queen of Scots, and her American counterpart by the same name. Resurrection Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois holds the body of Mary, a girl attending a funeral at the same cemetery who was murdered upon leaving. Drivers passing nearby report picking up a hitchhiking girl dressed in a white party dress who asks to be dropped off at the cemetery gates where she immediately vanishes inside.
St. Louis Cemetery - New Orleans
Think of New Orleans and – besides gumbo and Mardi Gras – voodoo is likely to come to mind. A result of African slaves living in the area, voodoo has shaped New Orleans’ history and is said to still have a strong influence. For instance, take a visit to the city’s St. Louis Cemetery to see famous voodoo queen Marie Laveau who is rumored to grant visitors’ requests. Enjoyed these freaky cemeteries? Then you’ll get a kick out of these 25 spooky pictures of The Parisian Catacombs, The World´s Largest Necropolis.
Chauchilla Cemetery - Peru
Visit Peru’s Chauchilla Cemetery and you’ll get an ancient fright. This scary site was used for up to 700 years, culminating in the 9th century A.D. Preservation techniques of the Nazca people were so skilled that some of the skeletons still have their original hair and skin clinging to their corpses. The dry heat of the Sechura Desert may have helped keep the bodies from decomposing. A visit is an eerie experience as graverobbers and archaeologists have dug up the purpose-built mud tombs and you can see bodies wrapped in cotton sitting at the bottom of pits.
Valley of the Kings - Egypt
The resting place of some of Egypt’s most famous rulers, the Valley of the Kings just near the Nile River is said to be protected by an ancient Egyptian curse: anyone disrupting the tombs will die. The final resting place of such famous rulers as Tutankhamen (whose tomb was one of the only not pillaged) and Ramses II, the area’s Curse of the Pharaohs is claimed to have taken the lives of many of Howard Carter’s search party – the original openers of Tutankhamen’s tomb. Many died from disease, something scientists claim arose from mold and bacteria in the ancient sealed tombs.
Highgate Cemetery - London
London’s Highgate Cemetery was home to some gruesome unexplained mysteries in the 1960s. Locals reported seeing a vampire behind the bars of the cemetery and many animals were found dead within its grounds, their bodies relieved of all blood. Locals launched vampire hunts on multiple occasions but nothing was found. The Highgate Cemetery Vampire is still sighted from time to time.
Bonaventure Cemetery - Georgia
The resting place of many a Georgian Civil War veteran, the Bonaventure Cemetery is 100 acres of a sprawling “city for the dead”. What’s most terrifying about this Savannah cemetery isn’t its ghosts, its the statues. One in particular of little Gracie Watson has small gifts strewn about. The legend goes that if a gift is stolen, Gracie’s statue will shed real tears.
Fire Mummies of Timbak Caves - Philippines
If you’re seeing a repeating theme with mummies on this list – you’d be right. Mummies are creepy. Until the arrival of the Spanish, Filipino islanders practiced mummification. Unique to Filipino mummies is the dehydration process: the dying person would be given a very salty drink to begin dehydration. Once they died, tobacco smoke was blown into their mouth to dehydrate the inside and a fire was lit nearby to dehydrate the outside.
The epidermal layer of skin was then peeled off and herbs rubbed on the body. After many months (years, sometimes) of mummification, the body would be interred in a wood coffin in a nearby cave. A Philippine National Culture Treasure, the Fire Mummies of Timbak Caves were looted but returned many years later. The government keeps locations of the mummies a secret so you may just wander upon a graveyard while exploring caves in the Philippines.
Howard Street Cemetery - Salem
Anyone who has taken a U.S. history course will be familiar with the Salem, Massachusetts, Witch Trials which took place in the 17th century. One man accused of practicing witchcraft, Giles Corey, was tortured to death (legal at the time) to elicit his innocence or guilt. (He refused to answer in either direction and, in doing so, prevented the authorities from seizing his property so it could pass on to his heirs.)
The local sheriff crushed Corey over two days by piling stones upon his chest. Every sheriff since then has died of a heart attack in office or left office due to heart troubles. Corey’s ghost is said to roam the Howard Street Cemetery before any major tragedy hits Salem.
Cimitero di San Michele - Venice
Venice: the beautiful canalled-city. Just outside Venice, there lies a place tourists rarely visit: the Cimitero di San Michele (Cemetery of Saint Michael). Occupying the entire island of San Michele, the cemetery became the principal burial ground for Venetians after Napoleon banned burying bodies in Venice in 1807. Special funeral gondolas ferried the bodies of the dead to the island for internment. Various ghosts have been reported on the graveyard island, though no one ghost has been individually identified.
Sedlec Ossuary - Kutná Hora
The fourth and final ossuary on our list of the creepiest cemeteries in the world is the Czech Republic’s Sedlec Ossuary. The largest church ossuary by far – holding over 40,000 former bodies – the ground around the ossuary is holy ground as the abbot of the Sedlec Cistercian Monastery went to Jerusalem in 1278 and brought back holy soil which he sprinkled on the premises, making Catholics from all over Central Europe clamor to be buried in the area.
After expansion and the creation of an ossuary could not contain the massive amount of burials, woodcarver František Rint was hired in 1870 to order the bones. He artfully arranged the skeletons, even creating a massive chandelier and a family crest from the bones. Though ghosts are said to haunt the premises, they aren’t said to do many hauntings – rather, they’re playful ghosts.
Bachelor's Grove Cemetery - Chicago
Ghost hunters rejoice – there’s a cemetery in Chicago that is equally creepy and abandoned (making for good exploration). Bachelors Grove Cemetery has been the host of a multitude of paranormal occurrences- anything from ghost cars to an old farmer hanging onto the plow of his horse as it rises out of a pond.
Police officers have found evidence of black magic rituals (which may have increased the hauntings and spiritual activities of the area). Bachelors Grove Cemetery is officially closed but numerous holes in the chain link fence give graverobbers and curious visitors a way into this scary graveyard.
San Juan Chamula Cemetery - Mexico
A blend of Mexican culture and local Tzotzil culture, the city of San Juan Chamula is a gem. Its burned-out old church, the Church of San Sebastian, presides over a massive cemetery still in use today. The remarkable Church of San Juan is especially notable for its lack of pews, pine-bough-covered floor, and sacrificed chickens.
The statues of the saints from the San Sebastian ruins were brought over but are not as highly regarded, even having been turned around for many years as the citizens were angry the saints didn’t protect their original home. The mix of Catholicism and local Mayan religions makes this city and graveyard creepy yet fascinating areas to visit.
Greyfriars Kirkyard - Edinburgh
The same cemetery from which J.K. Rowling derived many of the names in her Harry Potter book series, Greyfriars Kirkyard is a haunted space in the middle of Edinburgh, Scotland. Most famous for the story of Greyfriars Bobby – a dog who guarded his deceased master‘s grave for 13 years until passing away himself – the cemetery has a darker and still very active presence. One of the most well-documented paranormal occurrences in the world, the Mackenzie Poltergeist is responsible for most of the terror.
After a homeless man broke into the mausoleum of George MacKenzie (persecutor of a Presbyterian group against the king‘s desire for them to change religions), visitors to the cemetery and mausoleum especially have reported being cut, bitten, or blacking out (170 cases from 1990 to 2006).
New Lucky Restaurant (Cemetery Café) - Ahmedabad
Most people enjoy a night out to dinner with friends or family. Except those who live in Ahmedabad, India. (Well, ok, they enjoy it, too. But they have a very strange restaurant in their city.) Built on an old Muslim cemetery, the New Lucky Restaurant has been a hit since it opened over the former city of the dead.
Deciding not to remove the graves, the restaurant‘s owner encased around a dozen graves in iron grills throughout the restaurant. Waiters begin the morning by cleaning the graves and adding fresh flowers to them. This strange and slightly creepy restaurant may be the only place in the world you can dine with the dead.
Recoleta Cemetery - Buenos Aires
An endless expanse which seems to go on forever, the Cemeterio de la Recoleta (Recoleta Cemetery) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is an excellent example of funerary art. Also one of the top tourist attractions in the Argentinian capital, the cemetery hosts some of the country’s most famous including multiple past presidents and even Eva Perón.
Truly embodying the “city for the dead” moniker, the Recoleta Cemetery has massive tree-lined blocks with smaller streets branching out towards individual mausoleums. One of the creepiest mausoleums is that of Liliana Crociati de Szaszak; found dead during her honeymoon, Liliana is buried in a vault made to copy her bedroom. A statue of her is even at the door in full wedding dress attire.
Hanging Coffins of Sagada - Philippines
As such a diverse group of islands, the Philippines has many different burial traditions. Going north to the Igorot tribe of Mountain Province brings us to the Hanging Coffins of Sagada. To prevent animals from eating the corpses and to keep headhunters from rival tribes away, the Igorot people nailed their coffins into the sides of mountains.
To get the bodies to fit in the barely meter-long (3 feet) coffins, their bones would be broken and the bodies stuck in a fetal position. As the body was carried to the mountainside, family members and mourners would scramble to touch it as the fluids are believed to pass on the skills and talents of the deceased. Today, most people of the tribe are not buried in the Hanging Coffins style, though some elders are keeping to tradition.