It’s that time of year when everyone decides it’s appropriate to needlessly give themselves nightmares. If you aren’t already spooked-out on horror films, haunted houses, and gore in general, here’s a brief refresher on some of the most authentically scary places on earth. That way, when you’ve finally terrified yourself out of your wits this weekend, you can comfort yourself with the fact that at least you don’t live in any of these creepy, haunted environs.
Beechworth Lunatic Asylum: Beechworth, Victoria, Australia
Nothing like an abandoned asylum to make you suddenly start believing in ghosts, and the one in Beechworth pretty much takes the cake when it comes to the spooky factor. The asylum, established in 1867, lasted until 1995, housing roughly 1,200 patients at capacity. Over the course of its 130-year history, the mental hospital lost roughly 9,000 of its inmates who are said to haunt the property to this day. If you’d like to see a few of them for yourself, there’s even a nighttime ghost tour you can take.
Raynham Hall: Norfolk, England
Raynham Hall’s best known resident is surely “The Brown Lady,” or the ghost of one of its former inhabitants, Lady Dorothy Walpole. According to legend, Lady Walpole was caught having an affair by her husband and locked away in a room of the estate and left there to die. She has since haunted the property and was famously captured in an iconic 1936 photograph that first ran in Country Life magazine and later in Life.
Castle of Good Hope: Cape Town, South Africa
The Castle of Good Hope is the country’s oldest colonial building, established in the 17th century by the Dutch East India Company. The first paranormal experience was in 1915 when people reported seeing a tall man walking the ramparts. This same man was later spotted again in 1947 when he was seen repeatedly jumping off of one of the castle’s walls. It’s also reportedly inhabited by a “Lady in Grey” who runs through the courtyard wailing into her hands.
Chateau de Brissac: Brissac-Quincé, France
Built in the 11th century, Chateau de Brissac is not only the tallest castle in France but also one of the most terrifying. In the 15th century, a double murder that occurred within the castle’s walls is said to have resulted in a ghost named the “Green Lady.” Though the Chateau’s current residents claim to have become used to her goings-on, guests have been repeatedly horrified at the sight of a woman with no eyes or nose roaming the halls.
The Haunted Vicarage: Borgvattnet, Sweden
This small country vicarage was first put on the map as a haunted establishment back in 1927 when a chaplain named Nils Hedlund lived there and reported seeing his laundry being violently torn off the line by an invisible hand. This precipitated years of unexplained noises, mysteriously moving objects, and numerous sightings of old women sitting and watching guests as they slept. The house currently serves as a restaurant/cafe as well as a guest house, and those brave enough to stay the night are given a certificate to prove their bravery.
Old Changi Hospital: Changi, Singapore
Built in 1935, Old Changi Hospital was a military base used by the Kempeitai, or Japanese Secret Police, as a prison and torture camp. At the end of World War II, it was transitioned into a hospital and remained one until 1997. The hospital is said to be filled with the ghosts of Japanese soldiers, those who were executed, and patients who died there. Loud noises, inexplicable screams, and figures moving through the rooms are all said to be common occurrences.
The Amityville House: Long Island, New York
There’s a very good reason a best-selling book and blockbuster franchise are based on what transpired at this location. In 1974, the six members of the DeFeo family were murdered by their eldest son, Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. He later claimed that he had been possessed by a demon, but Butch’s murders instigated a legacy that would stick with the home for decades to come. The building was sold to another family in 1975, but they evacuated it in a matter of months after repeatedly experiencing cold spots, loud noises, strange extreme smells, oozing slime emanating from the walls and a plague of flies that no other house on the street experienced. It eventually all became too much for the family after they felt their personalities beginning to change for the worse, and they fled the murder house for safer ground.
Poveglia Island, Italy
This is truly one of the most chilling places on earth: the Italian island, found between Venice and Lido, was once home to extreme death and devastation. During the Bubonic Plague outbreak in the 14th century, the island was transformed into a quarantine colony where Venetians were sent to die. Infected children and babies were even thrown into pits full of festering corpses and left there to die or be burned alive. If that wasn’t enough to put you off, in the 30s it’s said a doctor performed torturous medical experiments there before jumping to his death at the encouragement of the resident ghosts. Today, the island is abandoned with many local residents still too terrified to set foot there.
Island of the Dolls: Xochimilco, Mexico
Just outside of Mexico City is an island that has lived the stuff nightmares are made of. As the story goes, in the 1920s, a young girl drowned in the water surrounding the island, giving it a reputation as haunted. In the 50s, a man named Julian Santan Barrera moved to the island and became a recluse. He began buying old dolls and tying them up in the trees, claiming that the ghost of the little girl told him to do so. Barrera later drowned in the same location it’s said the girl died in. Today, visitors claim they can hear the dolls whispering to them, moving, and following them with their eyes.
The Queen Mary Hotel: Long Beach, California
The Queen Mary Hotel is a former ocean liner from the 30s that’s now been transformed into a hotel that’s become a must-see destination for ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts. It’s considered to be one of the most haunted locations in the world, with supernatural sightings in almost every part of the ship. Most reports come from the First Class Swimming Pool where two women reportedly drowned, the Queen’s Salon, and Cabin B340, which is mysteriously no longer available to rent.