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As Halloween season is ramping up, we thought we should share this article on Mashable that gives some perspective on the creepiest places to visit that pale in comparison to your neighborhood haunted house. You probably can’t get them all in by next Thursday, but certainly things to consider on your next vacation.
By Beckett Mufson
If your ideal vacation involves more relaxation time than thoughts of death and decay, then perhaps these creep-tastic destinations aren’t for you.
However, if you have an inhuman tolerance for the heebie-jeebies, there are some hair-raising, fear-inspiring hotspots of the macabre from all over the world.
For those of you whose bucket lists contain both, “visit all seven continents” and “host a Tim Burton marathon in my mother’s basement,” then pack your bags, liquidate your assets and get on a plane immediately. Your first stop is probably on this list.
1. The Catacombs of Paris, France
After blowing your money on escargot, baguettes, crepes and tiny replicas of the Eiffel Tower, no trip to Paris is complete without a trip to the Parisian Catacombs — that is, unless you prefer not being surrounded by thousands of dead bodies, meticulously disassembled and stacked in neat little piles.
Perhaps the creepiest thing about this place is the fact that someone was responsible for digging up graves, taking apart skeletons, and sorting them into those stacks.
2. The Radioactive Amusement Park, Chernobyl
If you dislike clowns, weathered toys or Eastern Europe, the Prypiat Amusement Park is definitely in your no-fly zone.
After the Chernobyl disaster, a catastrophic nuclear event in 1986, everyone within a 19-mile radius was evacuated and forced to leave everything behind. The highest concentration of creepy juju is in the theme park, which still seems to be waiting for the kids to come back and play on its tetanus-ridden bumper cars.
Despite the creepitude, there is still a minor tourism industry in Kiev based around short tours into the radioactive wasteland. Check your scaredy pants at the door.
Image: Flickr, Timm Suess
3. The Cave of the Crystal Grave, Belize
If you were just bold enough to enter those Parisian Catacombs, test your nerves at the Actun Tunichil Muknal.
This very old cave is purportedly the site of an ancient human sacrifice. Its most famous inhabitant is the Crystal Maiden, who may or may not have been the victim of the aforementioned human sacrifice. She now rests, covered in tiny, glittering crystals, and fused to the floor of the cave. You’ll never look at your little cousin’s rhinestones the same way again.
Image: Peter Andersen
4. The Island of the Dolls, Mexico
As the story goes, a man named Don Julian Santana’s day was ruined about five decades ago, when he discovered the body of a little girl washed up on the shore of his island. He promptly went completely insane and spent the rest of his life hanging washed up dolls in the trees in order to appease the restless spirit of the girl. Hence the name, “La Isla de las Munecas.”
Unsurprisingly, this story doesn’t have a happy ending. In 2001, Santana was found drowned in the river he had obsessed over for 50 years. His family now runs the site as a tourist attraction.
Image: Flickr, Esparta Palma
5. The Human Library, Sicily
The Catacombe dei Cappuccini were originally intended as a place for friars to mummify and store themselves until the Second Coming, but soon became the trendy burial site for local elite.
Now, dressed in their finest death garbs, these mummies are on display in individual shelves throughout the ossuary. Like books. This creepy gesture was a sign of status; only the wealthy could afford display space for their embalmed bodies.
6. The Mutter Museum, Philadelphia
Humans are fascinated by weird things, but sometimes obsession goes a little too far. Dr. Thomas Dent Mutter spent his medical career dealing with the weirdest of the weird in diseases and deformities. After he died, his collection was released and expanded for the public to view.
Walk into the Mutter Museum today and you are surrounded by a bloated ovary the size of a soccer ball, a wall of deformed heads and a two-headed baby preserved in formaldehyde, among other oddities.
Image: Flickr, Alex Lau
7. The Ghost City, China
According to Chinese mythology, the pure of heart go to Heaven when they die, but the evil go to Diyu, the concept of hell. The Ghost City of Fengdu is modeled after that realm.
The city boasts scores of graves and shrines, evil-looking statues and a bridge that supposedly ejects evil people into the water when they try to cross, kind of like on Wipeout.
Fengdu is also rumored to be the prime chill-out spot for the King of Hell, and attracts tourists in fanny packs from all over the world.
8. The Cursed Resort, Taiwan
Stacks of rusting, saucer-shaped pods blemish an otherwise pleasant-looking field, in San Zhi, Taiwan.
These pods have been abandoned since their construction in the late ’70s — not because they look like an architect had just discovered ’60s drug culture, but instead because the land is supposedly cursed.
In the 17th century, locals laid siege to the site’s previous occupant, Fort Zeelandia, in an uprising against oppressive Dutch settlers, massacring hundreds of men, women and children.
The area has since seen countless strange accidents, car crashes and deaths. On top of that, construction workers chopped a remaining lucky dragon statue in half right to make way for the resort.
The Taiwanese government to this day refuses to talk about San Zhi.
The African nation of Togo is only known for a few things: its tropical weather, its fascinating woodcarvings and its crazy underground voodoo bazaar.
The bazaar is chock-full of dead cats, dogs, monkeys … pretty much dead everything. These items can be used for anything from voodoo to home decor, depending on whether or not your drapes go well with the musky scent of death.
Image: Flickr, Julius Cruickshank
11. The Mummy Museum, Mexico
In the 1800s, a cholera outbreak in Guanajuato, Mexico killed hundreds of people. As a result, overcrowded cemeteries became such a problem that the government levied an ongoing tax against the families of those occupying local graves.
Relatives left with the tax either thought this was unacceptable or just didn’t have the income to pay, so their relatives were dug up and embalmed.
While this practice was discontinued in 1958, a museum full of these corpses remains. Tourists can witness dozens of cholera victims at a time for just 52 pesos a pop.
Image: Flickr, Russ Bowling
12. The Suicide Forest, Japan
Those who live near Aokigahara Suicide Forest say there are three types of people that visit: sightseers who just want to check out the Fuji mountainside, the morbidly curious, and the people who are not expected to ever return.
These woods are the second most popular place of suicide in the world, following the Golden Gate Bridge. Between 10 and 80 people end their lives in the “Sea of Trees” each year.
Anti-suicide signs are scattered throughout the area proclaiming things like, “Your life is a precious gift from your parents,” or “Please consult the police before you decide to die!”
Image: Flickr, mtzn
13. The Bone Church, Czech Republic
Like many other locations on this list, the citizens of Sedlec, Czech Republic ran into the issue of having more dead bodies than they knew what to do with. While the French stacked them into piles and the Austrians painted them, the Czech priests decided to use the bones for decor.
In 1870 they brought in a master woodcarver named Frantisek Rint to put the bones in order. As a result of his work, the church is now covered — from steps to steeple — in bone art. More than 40,000 skeletons are arranged into designs, including a cross, the Schwarzenberg coat of arms and an amazing, giant chandelier composed of at least one of each type of human bone.
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Which of these places would you visit? Let us know in the comments.