Creepy Crypts and Catacombs Worldwide

A chandelier made of bones, skulls on altars, hanging skeletons -- enter the creepy world of crypts and catacombs for a look into burial practices of the past. Warning: Images not for the squeamish.

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Alleged burial site of Vlad the Impaler
Snagov Monastery

Snagov Monastery

On a tiny islet, surrounded by a lake, stands Snagov Monastery. Vlad enthusiasts have been claiming since the 19th century that Vlad himself is buried inside this monastery, more than 300 miles from Bucharest. While there’s no definitive proof of it, it sure makes for an intriguing story. 960 1280

fusion-of-horizons, flickr  

Count Dracula Club

Count Dracula Club

Inside this 19th-century house in Bucharest, visitors encounter a Dracula-inspired restaurant with some, um, newfangled twists. Dine on menu options like “Count Dracula’s Beefsteak” and the “Van Helsing Plate,” in honor of Dracula’s biggest enemy. But beware -- someone might sneak up on you, and take a bite out of your tasty neck! 960 1280

Count Dracula Club   

Brasov, Home to Dracula’s Castle

Brasov, Home to Dracula’s Castle

The medieval fortress, about 100 miles from Bucharest, was invaded by Vlad back in the day. Perched atop a 200-foot-tall rock, overlooking the village of Bran, Bran Castle yields panoramic views of the village below. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Poenari Fortress

Poenari Fortress

This weathered, cliff-side castle was Vlad’s main fortress. Built between the 13th and 14th centuries in south-central Romania by the rulers of Wallachia (a principality in what is now Romania), the castle was later abandoned and fell into ruin, until Vlad stepped in and oversaw its repairs. 960 1280

RomaniaTourism.com  

Chindia Tower in Targoviste

Chindia Tower in Targoviste

This military tower, in the Romanian city of Targoviste, was built by Vlad in the 15th century. Construction began during Vlad’s second reign (his first reign had been interrupted by a political coup and subsequent exile). Vlad came back strong with Chindia Tower, which stands at more than 88 feet. 960 1280

RomaniaTourism.com
  

Vlad's Old Princely Court

Vlad's Old Princely Court

This place of residence, located in Bucharest’s historic center, was built during the rule of Vlad III. But don’t let its regal arches and (1 remaining) Corinthian column fool you; the princely court was also likely a house of horrors. Local lore has it that Vlad kept his political enemies in dungeons beneath the court’s grounds. 960 1280

Nicubunu, Wikimedia Commons  

Sibiu, Where the Impaling Began

Sibiu, Where the Impaling Began

Vlad’s gory legend was born in the Transylvania city of Sibiu. In 1459, thousands of people were impaled in the city, at Vlad’s orders, on St. Bartholomew’s Day. Vlad’s victims included women and children, along with merchants and the local aristocracy. While some justify Vlad’s gruesome acts as a defense of nationalism (many of his victims were German Saxons), his detractors note that many of his victims were also from his native Wallachia. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Vlad's Birthplace, Sighisoara

Vlad's Birthplace, Sighisoara

See where Vlad III was born. In the winter of 1431, the future Prince of Wallachia was born in the present-day city of Sighisoara -- this yellow building is his supposed birthplace. Vlad’s father was Vlad II Dracul, who went on to become the voivode (warlord) of the area. No one really knows who Vlad III’s mother was; some speculate it was a princess from Moldavia, but Vlad’s father had several mistresses. 960 1280

Aleksandar Cocek, flickr  

Borgo Pass

Borgo Pass

This high mountain pass, roughly 309 miles northwest of Bucharest, is actually known as the Tihuta Pass. Located in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains, the area was made famous by Bram Stoker’s Dracula -- in the novel, he rechristened the area, “Borgo Pass,” depicting it as the gateway to Count Dracula’s lair of horrors.

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Richard Mortel, flickr  

Hotel Coroana de Aur

Hotel Coroana de Aur

Once you’ve checked out the Borgo Pass, settle down for the night at Hotel Coroana de Aur. The property comprises 109 rooms and 4 suites, with air-conditioning, mini-bars and free Wi-Fi among the amenities, making for a clean, streamlined environment to kick back and read up on Vlad and Dracula’s bloody exploits. 960 1280

Iván Vieito  

Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock

Dome of the Rock

Women ascend the steps to the Dome of the Rock. Built more than 1,300 years ago, the shrine stands as Islam’s third-holiest site. Competing religious beliefs make it the world’s most hotly debated piece of land. At its center is the Foundation Stone -- the spot where believers say Mohammad ascended to heaven; and where, for Jewish believers, the ancient Temple’s Holy of Holies stood. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Old City of Jerusalem

Old City of Jerusalem

A mix of old and new architecture, the big standout of the Jerusalem skyline is the golden roof of the Dome of the Rock. Over the millennia the city has fallen under various hands (Jewish, Babylonian, Roman, Christian, Muslim); its current walls were built in the 1500s by Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Naturally, with so many competing histories, fueled by impassioned belief, the question of who owns what is never far behind. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Jerusalem's Best Hummus?

Jerusalem's Best Hummus?

You decide at Abu Shurki. This “hummusiyya” (hummus restaurant), located at the intersection of Via Dolorosa and al-Wad road in East Jerusalem, has been operating as a family business for the past 6 decades. Its hummus has been praised by locals and international media alike for being some of the city's best. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Ben Yehuda Street

Ben Yehuda Street

In the heart of downtown Jerusalem, Ben Yehuda is the major street to see. Closed to vehicles, the street is home to souvenir shops, pizzerias, cafes and street musicians -- like this man, jamming to the beat of his spiritual hero, the 18th-century Nachman of Breslov, of Ukraine. The street itself is named for Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the founder of Modern Hebrew. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Damascus Gate

Damascus Gate

Enter the bustle of Jerusalem’s Old City through Damascus Gate. The gate, in its current form, was built in the 1537, under the rule of Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Suleiman the Magnificent. The gate is built upon the remains of an earlier structure, constructed in the 2nd century, under the rule of Roman Emperor Hadrian. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Going the Same Way?

Going the Same Way?

Israel’s diverse panoply of Jewish life is often visible in everyday moments. Here, an Ultra-Orthodox man looks to one side, and Israeli soldiers to another, as they all wait for a rail line. Unlike other segments of Jewish society, Israel’s ultra-orthodox, known as haredim, do not serve in the military, leading to considerable debate within the country and beyond. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

The Western Wall

The Western Wall

Cover up! Located in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Western Wall, or “Kotel” in Hebrew, is a remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple’s courtyard. For 2,000 years this wall has endured as a place where seekers come to offer prayers, slipping notes between its ancient stones. Before you approach the wall, Orthodox practitioners may kindly help you cover up. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

First Station Complex

First Station Complex

High-five! A young mother enjoys a Sunday afternoon with her sons at First Station Complex. Located on the grounds of Jerusalem’s original railway station (closed for good in 1998) this entertainment hub is one of the city’s top places for food and culture, with attractions like farmers’ markets, a designer’s fair and plenty of kiddie fun. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Jerusalem Light Rail

Jerusalem Light Rail

Staking its claim as a 21st-century city, Jerusalem is now home to a light rail line. The line was completed in 2010, following 8 years of construction (and accompanying debate over possible damage to archaeological finds, most notably a Roman-Jewish settlement, dating to 70 C.E.). Today, the line spans nearly 9 miles, and trains operate at a speed of 50 mph. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Mahane Yehuda Market

Mahane Yehuda Market

Friday mornings are the time to see Mahane Yehuda in action. This bustling marketplace, known as “The Shuk,” is home to more than 250 vendors selling fresh fruits, vegetables, wines, nuts, breads and pastries like rugelach, pictured. Families load up bags with produce, then head home to prepare it all for the Sabbath. As the sun sets, streets fall empty and quiet; it's a vibe you won't find anywhere else in the world on a Friday evening. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Schindler’s List

Schindler’s List

Just outside the walls of the Old City, on a hill known as Mount Zion, is the final resting place of Oskar Schindler. The German industrialist who saved 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust, or “Shoah,” in Hebrew, was laid to rest here in 1974; a tree is also planted in Schindler and his wife’s honor at Yad Vashem, Israel’s national memorial to the two-thirds of European Jews who perished in the Holocaust. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Tomb of the Prophets

Tomb of the Prophets

Behind this unassuming gate lies the Tomb of the Prophets. Located on the Mount of Olives, the catacomb that lies below is, according to Jewish and Christian Biblical traditions, the final resting place of the ancient prophets Haggai and Zechariah. A local guide, Jamil, has the key to the gate; he’ll let you in, and light candles for a photo-op below, but a gratuity is appreciated. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Chapel of the Ascension

Chapel of the Ascension

A woman rests her hand in one of Christianity’s holiest sites – the right footprint of Christ. Located on the Mount of Olives, Ascension Rock, as it’s called, is found within the Chapel of the Ascension. First built in 390 A.D. and again in 1150 A.D., the chapel houses the exact spot where, according to Christian tradition, the incarnate Christ last touched the Earth before ascending to heaven. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Light shines through the dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Cherished by believers as the spot where Jesus was crucified, the church has been one of the most important pilgrimages for Christians for at least 1,500 years. Today, the church serves as the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, signifying the important role the Eastern Orthodox Church plays in preserving Jerusalem's Christian heritage. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Mount of Olives

Mount of Olives

Orthodox Jewish men pray at the grave of a spiritual leader. The grave is among the 150,000 found on the Mount of Olives. In ancient times, olive groves covered this mountain ridge overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City. Among the graves is that of Shlomo Goren, one of Israel’s leading rabbis of his day, who blew a ram’s horn at the Western Wall following the capture of East Jerusalem in 1967. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Bloomfield Park

Bloomfield Park

In a city where divisions are sometimes palpable, this West Jerusalem park offers an unexpected reprieve. Here, Jewish and Arab children splash around in a shared fountain -- the Lions’ Fountain, as it's called, which was a gift from Germany in 1989. Catching a glimpse of this moment makes any trip to Jerusalem worth it. 960 1280

Lisa Singh