Forget traditional tourist attractions such as museums, historical architecture or unique natural landmarks, the hit of this Halloween season is the so called “Dark Tourism“ which takes travelers to macabre attractions and disturbing experiences. Dark tourism (sometimes also known as “black tourism“ or “grief tourism“) has been defined as tourism involving travel to sites historically associated with death or tragedy. From a haunted Chilean cemetery with open graves to a creepy suicide forest in Japan, check out these 25 dark tourism sites that will give you the spine-chilling feel just by seeing them on your screen.
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Costa Concordia Shipwreck, Italy
The Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia capsized and sank after striking an underwater obstruction off Isola del Giglio, on 13 January 2012. Although it sank just some 1,300 feet off the island, 32 out of more than 4,000 people aboard died in the accident. Just a few months later, the wreck of the Costa Concordia became a grim tourist attraction with thousands visitors queuing up each day to catch a ferry that passed within just a few feet of the submerged cruise ship. In September 2013, the ship was brought to a vertical position and, in July 2014, having been refloated, she commenced its final journey under tow and a 14 ship escort to be scrapped in Genoa.
Suicide Forest, Japan
Officially called Aokigahara, the Suicide Forest is a 4 square miles forest that lies at the northwest base of Mount Fuji in Japan. Historically associated with demons in Japanese mythology, the forest has such a dense tree distribution that it literally blocks winds, making it exceptionally quiet and eerie place. Despite numerous signs, in Japanese and English, urging people to reconsider their actions, the forest – for some reason – has become a popular spot for suicides. Statistically, about 100 suicides occurred there every year. However, it is suggested that many other corpses have been lying there for years undiscovered.
Located in the Limousin region in west-central France, Oradour-sur-Glane is a little village that was a site of grisly massacre by a German Waffen-SS company in the WWII. In June 1944, after the D-Day invasion of Normandy, Oradour-sur-Glane was sealed off by a German battalion, after rumors had circulated that an SS officer was being held prisoner in the area. As collective punishment, residents of the village were ordered to assemble in the village square, ostensibly to have their identity papers examined, but instead, hundreds of them including women and children were then massacred in a horrific machine gun attack. Former French president Charles de Gaulle later decreed that the village would never be rebuilt, and that it should serve as a museum and permanent memorial to the atrocities that occurred during the German occupation of France.
Babenhausen Barracks, Germany
Located near the city of Hesse in Germany, the Babenhausen Barracks were used to house soldiers for combat in the World War II. After the war, the barracks have fallen into disuse but what makes this building a dark tourism hot spot is the frequent occurrence of paranormal activity – ghosts of German soldiers have been seen in uniforms, lights are known to turn on and off by themselves, voices and German commands are often heard being shouted out in the middle of the night, and disembodied footsteps are a common experience.
Banff Springs Hotel, Alberta, Canada
Built in 1888 as one of Canada’s grand railway hotels, the Banff Springs Hotel is rumored to be one of the most haunted places in the country. Stories suggest a woman dressed in her wedding gown lost her life on the staircase. It all began when the woman’s wedding dress caught on fire due to the candles that adorned the stair case. In a panic she tripped and fell down the stairs, dying from a broken neck. Many people have reported seeing her ghost in full wedding gown, often dancing in the ballroom. The most popular story though, is the one about a family that was murdered in room 873. The door to this room has since been bricked up, but the family that lost their lives in there, are still seen to this day, often in the hallway outside the room.