One of the most enduring aspects of cultural similarity found throughout the globe involves the supernatural. Wherever you go around the world you most likely hear various legends and ghost stories. People seem to be somewhat obsessed with what goes on after death, especially in regards to whether or not the spirits of the departed stick around. Somebody may say hat such attention can be blamed on vivid, Hollywood inspired imaginations, but documented reports of supernatural activities go back several centuries in many places, highlighting the fact that no matter the time period or society involved, the paranormal remains on people’s minds.
Listed here such places spread out across the globe, many of them mark the site of horrific and traumatic deaths, either due to murder or terrifying voodoo rituals.
Sedlec Ossuary (Bone Church) in the Czech Republic
The spine-tingling Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic is estimated to hold the remains of between 40,000 and 70,000 people, many of whom died in the plague in 1318 and during the Hussite Wars in the 15th century.
Known as the ‘Skull Church,’ the macabre building contains bodies that have been dismembered, de-fleshed and reassembled into decorative features including a bone chandelier and chalices and even a family crest constructed from human remains.
Rockland Psychiatric Center in Orangeburg, New York
With it’s abandoned playrooms, paint peeling off the walls and broken furniture strewn across the halls, Rockland Psychiatric Center in Orangeburg, New York, is the stuff of nightmares.
The psychiatric hospital was built in the 1930s and at its peak in the late 50s, some 9,000 inpatients were cared for by 2,000 staff, but today it stands empty.
Toys, furniture and medical equipment have been left behind, and the empty corridors is enough to send shivers down the bravest spines.
Spooky ‘ghosts’ in St George’s church in the Czech Republic
Czech artist Jakub Hadrava has helped secure the future of the 14th century St George’s church in Lukova after creating a spooky art installation that features a collection of hooded ‘ghosts’ that line the pews and aisles. Since his work was added to the medieval building over the summer, the church has seen a huge influx of tourists from counties as far away as Brazil, Australia and Germany.
Hanging Coffins of Sagada, Philippines
While many cultures bury their dead out of sight beneath a commemorative headstone or a plaque, some societies in China, Indonesia and the Philippines have been hanging their ancestors prominently on cliff faces for centuries. Sagada in the Mountain Province of the Philippines is one location where the practice of hanging coffins continues to this day.
Catacombs of Palermo with thousands of well-dressed mummies
In Sicily, where the relationship between the living and the dead has always been strong, the city of Palermo hosts one of the world’s more bizarre and morbid tourist attractions. Through the doors of the Capuchin Monastery, which looks like any other building from the outside, visitors can descend into the large Capuchin catacombs.
Pinned to the walls, sitting on benches and shelves and tucked away in open coffins are nearly 8,000 corpses, each one dressed in their Sunday best. In most of Western culture, the long-dead are generally kept out of sight, hidden from the living. Here, it is the exception. Nothing stands between the living and dead, except maybe a rope with a sign asking visitors to be respectful.
Ghost city of Pripyat, Ukraine
In 1986 the worst nuclear disaster the world has ever seen occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Abandoned for nearly a quarter of a century, witnesses believe that the spirits of those who died in the tragic accident still roam the town. It is believed to be haunted. People have had the feeling of being watched when walking past the city hospital. Apparitions and shadows are often seen. Some have even reported being touched.
Aokigahara Suicide Forest, Japan
Called “the perfect place to die,” the Aokigahara forest in Japan has the unfortunate distinction of the world’s second most popular place to take one’s life. (The first is the Golden Gate Bridge.) Since the 1950s, Japanese businessmen have wandered in, and at least 500 of them haven’t wandered out, at an increasing rate of between 10 and 30 per year. Recently these numbers have increased even more, with a record 78 suicides in 2002. In 2003, that record was beat with a number of 105 bodies discovered.
Fetish Voodoo market, Lome, Togo
Whatever your ailment is, the traditional healers at the Akodessewa Fetish Market in Lome, Togo have a solution. From buffalo skull to antelope horn, desiccated cobra to bear skin, the healers, or fetish priests, in West Africa’s largest “Marché des Fetiches” have a world of decaying animals at their fingertips, ready to be ground up, burned, imbibed, or whatever else the gods may decry.
Mysterious hill of crosses in northern Lithuania
Consisting of a hill bristling with hundreds of thousands of crosses of every size and design, it is a powerful testament to religious devotion – where pilgrims descend to plead with Jesus for miracles.
The tradition of leaving crosses began after an uprising against the Russian tsar was put down in 1831. Relatives of the dead rebels, with no bodies to bury, instead left crosses on this hill to commemorate their fallen.
When the Russians again occupied Lithuania, during the soviet period, religion was forbidden.
Capela dos Ossos, or the Chapel of Bones in Portugal
A structure with interiors covered completely in human bones – sounds like the stuff that scary houses are made of, right? But believe it or not, it is actually a place of worship. Capela dos Ossos, or the Chapel of Bones, is located next to the Church of St. Francis in the medieval Portuguese town of Evora. The 16th century chapel is a large room that has been adorned with the bones of over 5,000 monks.
Abandoned Hitler’s hospital Beelitz-Heilstätten, Germany
Rusty beds, vine-covered buildings and empty corridors with walls covered in graffiti and slowly peeling paint are what remains of a gigantic hospital which once treated Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, after it was abandoned in the fall of East Germany.
Beelitz-Heilstätten, a 60-building treatment complex southwest of the German capital, was built in the late 19th century to help rehabilitate the growing number of tuberculosis patients in the expanding city of Berlin.
During the Great War, Beelitz-Heilstätten – or Beelitz Sanatorium – was turned into a military hospital and was where a young Adolf Hitler was treated for a thigh injury acquired during the Battle of the Somme.
Guanajuato Mummy Museum in Mexico
The Guanajuato Mummy Museum, which sees more than 4,000 visitors a week, charges tourists £2 to gape at more than a hundred dried human cadavers, all of which have been disinterred from graves in the cemetery next door.
Behind flimsy glass cabinets, the museum displays murder victims, criminals who were buried alive and infants laid to rest dressed up as saints – a Mexican belief that it will ease their passage to heaven.
Many of the corpses are so well preserved that their eyebrows, beards and fingernails are still intact.
featured image©Vladimir Kumov