10 Terrifying, Secret Spots Around the World
Subterranean caverns, hidden tunnels and a nuclear wasteland are just some of the most frightening secret places on Earth.
Photo By: Christian Vieljeux
Scary Places You Need to See
Pianos playing without strings, doors slamming shut on their own accord and the echo of cavalry spurs ringing through the halls. Paranormal activity (or just shiver-inducing chills) can be found in certain notoriously haunted or creepy places around the globe, from eerie abandoned amusement parks in the Ukraine to the ruins of the real-life Dracula's castle in Romania. Journey with Travel Channel (and Travel Channel hosts Ramy Romany and Josh Gates who've visited some of the planet's most unsettling spots) as we explore a few of the scariest places on earth.
1: Boleskine Graveyard, Inverness, Scotland
Sightings of a legendary creature have been reported in the waters of Loch Ness for over 500 years. Though few visitors to the Scottish Highlands will catch a glimpse of Nessie on their trip, travelers can take a peek at an even more frightening location on the remote, south shore of the lake — Boleskine Graveyard. It’s there that British occultist Aleister Crowley is said to have practiced necromancy rituals, casting spells to commune with and reanimate the dead. Boleskine Graveyard is accessible 24/7. You'll find it about 40 minutes southwest of Inverness on the lonely B852.
2: Garnet Ghost Town, Missoula, Montana
Though it only flourished for a few years in the 1890s, some 1,200 people once called the Montana mining town of Garnet home. By 1905, most of the area mines had been abandoned and only a fragment of Garnet’s population remained. Today, visitors can amble through abandoned saloons and houses, and gaze into the void of abandoned mine shafts littering the woods. Garnet Ghost Town seems quaint on the surface, but don’t let the manicured grounds and small staff fool you—the place has a history of paranormal activity. The town's ruins are located about an hour’s drive outside of Missoula, Montana. There is no entry fee.
3: Poenari Fortress, Curtea de Argeș, Romania
Most are familiar with the story of Dracula, an immortal vampire lord who feeds on the blood of the living. Dracula’s modern day myth has grown ever since Irish author Bram Stoker released his 1897 novel of the same name. But Stoker's story has a foundation in reality. Vlad III Dracula was a real world ruler of the defunct nation of Wallachia in the 15th century, and you can still visit the ruins of his once formidable citadel. The crumbling walls of Poenari Fortress are located on a rocky outcrop high in the Carpathian Mountains. To find the trailhead, head north on the Transfăgărăşan Highway from Curtea de Argeș.
4: Earnestine and Hazel’s, Memphis, Tennessee
For more than 100 years, the two-story, brick building on a corner in downtown Memphis has been a fixture of the city’s landscape. Built in the late 1800s on the grounds of a ruined church, the weathered facade has played host to a pharmacy, a hair salon, a jazz club, a bar and a brothel. What separates Earnestine and Hazel’s from a host of haunted bars across America is the density of its spirit population. Thirteen people are said to have died in the bar through various violent means. And mediums say that spirits from the 1800s into modern day are working together to bring attention to the lost orphans of women who worked in the building’s brothel.
5: The Cave of the Hanging Snakes, Kantemo, Mexico
Mexico’s Cueva de las Serpientes Colgantes or Cave of the Hanging Snakes is infested with a unique population of rat snakes that have taken to living in the ceiling. Travel Channel host Ramy Romany found himself navigating the Cave of the Hanging Snakes while filming Travel Channel’s Mummies Never Die, and was mortified by the experience. "I have an Indiana Jones-level of fear of snakes," he explains. "I was shaking in there." The Cave of the Hanging Snakes is located 177 miles southwest of Cancun. Visitors making their way inland to Chichén Itza will find themselves about two hours by car from Kantemo.
6: The Witches Jail, Barnstable, Massachusetts
The Old Jail in Barnstable, Massachusetts isn’t only one of the oldest structures on Cape Cod, it is the oldest wooden jail in America. Built in 1690, this jail became notorious for holding women accused of witchcraft in the 17th century. "Women died there, angry and frustrated," says Ramy Romany. "Every time they believed someone was a witch, they put her in that jail. Hundreds of accused witches were held there, but tens of them just disappeared never to be seen again." Travelers to New England can see Barnstable’s Old Jail for themselves. The Cape and Islands Paranormal Research Society hosts tours on Monday and Friday nights for $20.
7: The Museum of Death, Los Angeles
"In the 1970s, a lot of people started feeding obsessions by buying sideshow mummies," says Ramy Romany. "Carnivals and freak shows were taking a downturn, economically, and people took advantage of that. There are a lot of private collectors in America that have dead people in their houses, but they tend not to share that information." Even though most of those mummies (like the one seen here) are locked away in private collections, Hollywood's Museum of Death, features the mummified, severed head of French serial killer Henri Landru on public display. Admission is $17.
8: The Tunnels of the Great Sphinx, Giza, Egypt
Archeologists have known about an ancient system of tunnels beneath the Giza Plateau since at least the 1930s. Travel Channel host Ramy Romany recently found himself shuffling through those very tunnels, searching for the grave of a god. "The tunnels are dark, muggy and humid," Romany says. "You have to walk through water that is waist high and two football fields long. You’re underground, and you don’t know what is in the water … except for a tomb." According to Ramy, that submerged tomb is thought to be the grave of Osiris, the Egyptian god of the underworld. "No one knows if anyone is actually buried there, which adds to the spookiness."
The tunnels beneath the Giza Plateau are off limits to tourists. However, you'll find no shortage of tours to the Great Sphinx and the pyramids themselves.
See More Photos: Seven Wonders of Egypt
9: The Island of the Dolls, Mexico City
"Beneath modern Mexico City is the old Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan," explains Expedition Unknown host Josh Gates. "Today, there’s little left of this once glittering ancient metropolis, other than a series of canals that once flowed out to surrounding pueblos." It’s via those canals that Gates says you’ll find the "Isla de las Munecas," or Island of the Dolls. According to Gates, local legend contends that the dolls actually move at night. It’s an action that he claims to have witnessed himself. "During our filming, a doll opened its eye right in front of me. It was the closest I’ve ever come to abandoning a case. This is one of the creepiest places I’ve ever visited," he says.
The Island of the Dolls is accessible to Mexico City visitors via hand-paddled boats from Xochimilco’s Embarcadero Celada.
See More Photos: Ghost Adventures: Island of the Dolls Pictures
10: The Abandoned Carnival, Pripyat, Ukraine
On April 26, 1986, mankind witnessed the worst nuclear disaster in history when the number four reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant melted down. In the ensuing days, 49,000 people were evacuated from the area around the plant, most of them from the nearby town of Pripyat. "I spent the night in Pripyat, something I will probably never do again," Josh Gates says. "It was one of the most haunting and tragic places I’ve ever visited. In the schoolhouse, there are books on the desks. In apartments, there is food on the tables. Pripyat is a reminder that all of mankind’s power over nature is fleeting, and that hubris comes at a terrible price."
Travelers to Ukraine can visit Pripyat's abandoned carnival for about $100. "A word of warning," adds Gates: "I just wouldn’t stay long."