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VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Caitlin Johnson & Nathan Sharp
These creepy places are not for the faint of heart. For this list, we're looking at locations that are frightening, dangerous, or both. We'll also be taking ghost stories and legends about these unsettling places into account. Our countdown includes Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, Poveglia Island, Pripyat, and more!

#20: Edinburgh Vaults

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Scotland Inside the arches of South Bridge, built across a valley in Scotland’s capital city in the 1780s, are dark, damp chambers, once used as taverns, workshops, and storage spaces for the business above. However, once the businesses left, Edinburgh’s poorest residents moved into the vaults, and they became dens of illegal activity - even being used by bodysnatchers. Eventually, the vaults were closed down and forgotten about for over a century. Today, organized tours take visitors through the chambers. But they should still beware the malevolent spirits that supposedly roam the halls.

#19: The Great Blue Hole

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Belize Belize’s Great Blue Hole isn’t the only marine sinkhole in the world, but it is the largest, at 1,000 feet wide and over 400 feet deep. Several divers have become lost and died inside it. In fact, a 2019 expedition to the bottom discovered two bodies of long lost divers. Not only is it the hole dangerous to inexperienced divers, but also to the sea life around it. The bottom is so full of hydrogen sulfide that life can’t survive inside for long. Unfortunately, many reef-dwelling crabs learned that lesson firsthand.

#18: Montpelier Hill (AKA the Hell Fire Club)

Ireland A sinister, derelict building stands at the top of Montpelier Hill near Dublin, Ireland. This foreboding location was once the hunting lodge home to one branch of the infamous Hell Fire Club. Hell Fire Clubs existed across the British Isles as bases for societal elites in the 1700s to engage in all kinds of debauched and potentially even violent practices. The organization remains somewhat mysterious to this day thanks to the secrecy surrounding it. So, it’s not clear exactly what happened during its meetings. But while we don’t know whether the darkest tales of horrifying rituals are true or not, it’s been said that this Hellfire Club spot supposedly hosts a number of spirits.

#17: Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary

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USA For thirty years, Alcatraz was an ominous presence on a lonely island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Since it was in a relatively isolated position, it was frequently cited as totally inescapable. And although three people notably did escape in 1962, they were never seen again after leaving the island. Even while it was still in use, Alcatraz was a dangerous, decaying place. Its prisoners were often mistreated since it was designed to feel as hostile as possible. Though it’s been shuttered for far longer than it was ever in operation, that hostile atmosphere persists. Today, you can tour the prison and experience its horrors – and many alleged ghosts – for yourself.

#16: Loftus Hall

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Ireland It’s been named the most haunted house in Ireland for a scarily good reason. Located in County Wexford, its most famous ghost story involves a visit from the Devil himself. He apparently arrived one evening to play cards until his identity was revealed. Satan supposedly flew up through the ceiling and left a hole that remains today. For about a decade, Loftus Hall was open to brave souls who wanted to go on a ghost tour. There were even overnight stays offered for anybody desperate to test their mettle. In 2020, it was put on sale for a hefty sum of around $3 million. Now it waits for a new owner to purchase its hallowed halls.

#15: Houska Castle

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Czech Republic This creepy castle has long been rumored to be built over an actual entrance to hell. Naturally, this has given the castle a nearly unmatched reputation for supernatural entities. You’ll find it just outside Prague open to all visitors brave enough to enter. It was built around 800 years ago and has been home to many royals and nobles over the centuries. The so-called “gateway to hell” is an enormous, supposedly bottomless pit that the castle was constructed over the top of. The pit was deemed so horrific that, according to legends, prisoners were sent to investigate it and returned with stories of indescribable horrors.

#14: The Stanley Hotel

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USA Master of horror Stephen King stayed in this hotel in 1974 when he and his wife were the only guests in the entire place. This spooky atmosphere served as the inspiration for “The Shining”, the novel that was later adapted to film and became one of Stanley Kubrick’s scariest movies. Just knowing that the Stanley was the inspiration behind the Overlook Hotel will send a chill down your spine. Located in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, the hotel is supposedly haunted by numerous ghosts. It’s become a prime destination for paranormal tourism since the book was released. Stay the night at the Stanley, if you dare.

#13: Poveglia Island

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Italy Known as one of the most haunted spots in Europe, Poveglia Island has a long and gruesome history that dates back centuries. It first began to gain its reputation in the late 18th century when it was used to quarantine victims of various diseases. It’s reported that over 100,000 people passed away and were buried and/or cremated on the island. To make matters creepier, an asylum was constructed there in the twentieth century. While Poveglia is closed to visitors today, the derelict asylum still stands. The Venetian government has been looking for someone to redevelop it. But nobody has yet been bold enough to sign the lease.

#12: Bran Castle

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Romania Long before the Stanley Hotel inspired a horror legend, the Bran Castle may have inspired another scary icon. Located in Transylvania, Romania, Bran Castle has built an entire business around the claim that it was the basis of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. While there isn’t actually much evidence for this, or the claim Vlad the Impaler stayed there, it still can be a terrifying destination. Many deaths occured within the castle walls due to its use as a hospital in the Second World War. Whether you believe Bran Castle was the true home of Count Dracula or not, it’s still an impressive and intimidating fortress right in the heart of vampire country.

#11: Sedlec Ossuary

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Czech Republic On the outside, the Czech Republic’s Cemetery of All Saints seems like any other quaint, small town cemetery. But underneath, it looks like a serial killer’s lair. The Sedlec Ossuary is located below the Cemetery of All Saints in Sedlec, Czech Republic, and it contains the skeletons of up to 70,000 people. The bones are artistically arranged to form various “attractions” and furnishings, including a chandelier composed of every bone in the human body. The area has been a desirable burial site since the 13th century, and it contains many victims of the Black Death and Hussite Wars. The ossuary itself was built around 1400 to house the bones of those buried on the property in mass graves.

#10: Aokigahara Forest

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Japan This woodland in Japan has an extremely distressing reputation. It’s widely known as a place where people frequently take their own lives. In an attempt to combat this disturbing trend, the local authorities have put up messages encouraging people to think again about what they intend to do. Dozens of people each year sadly lose their lives when they journey into these woods. However, it’s never been entirely clear why the forest has seen so much tragedy. Many believe that it may have roots in Japanese folklore. While the forest itself is beautiful, the history of what’s happened there is decidedly dark.

#9: Chillingham Castle

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England The suitably named Chillingham Castle is certainly chilling all right. Located in northern Northumberland, this Medieval castle dates back to the 12th century, when it served as a monastery. It was even visited by King Edward I of England in the late 13th century, while he was traveling to fight William Wallace. It is said to be the most haunted castle in all of Britain, known primarily for its resident “blue boy.” Guests would supposedly hear a loud wailing noise and witness a blue halo floating above their beds. However, the hauntings have reportedly stopped after renovation work uncovered the bones of a young boy buried within the walls.

#8: Snake Island

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Brazil You can probably guess what occupies Snake Island. Ilha da Queimada Grande is a small, 106-acre island located off the southeastern corner of Brazil. It is inhabited by untold numbers of snakes, who became trapped on the island once rising sea levels cut it off from the mainland. It remains the only place on Earth to host the endangered golden lancehead, a highly venomous pit viper that devours birds. It is estimated that up to 4,000 golden lanceheads reside on the island. Snake Island cannot be visited by citizens, both to protect the endangered snakes from prying eyes and the humans from becoming snake victims. The only people allowed there are select researchers and members of the Brazilian Navy.

#7: Yungas Road

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Bolivia Health and safety? Pshaw. Yungas Road is located in Bolivia, linking the city of La Paz to the greater Yungas region. Chillingly nicknamed the Road of Death, Yungas Road was famous for its complete lack of safety precautions. The road itself is very thin, which doesn’t allow for many mistakes. There are no guardrails, the slopes are steep, and the area is regularly hit by heavy rain and fog cover, making travel an extremely dangerous expedition. A new road has been built for driving, but Yungas remains a popular tourist destination owing to its stellar mountain biking - even though 18 cyclists have died on the route since 1998.

#6:Catacombe dei Cappuccini

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Italy Forget the Paris Catacombs. These catacombs located in Palermo, Sicily originated in the 16th century when monks excavated crypts below the overpopulated Capuchin monastery. It soon became a status symbol to be buried within the Capuchin catacombs, and it was maintained through donations paid by the rich relatives of the entombed. It’s estimated that the catacombs contain 8,000 corpses and 1,252 mummies, all of which are visible to the public, and even set in various poses. Each of the bodies are categorized into different “sections” of the catacombs, including Men, Women, and Children. The catacombs are also famous for hosting Rosalia Lombardo, a one-year-old child whose preserved body remains in exceptional condition.

#5: The Door to Hell

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Turkmenistan Turns out, the door to Hell exists, and it’s located in Turkmenistan. The village of Derweze is home to the Darvaza gas crater, which was unintentionally created in 1971 while Soviet engineers were drilling for oil. Fearing the release of dangerous methane gas, the engineers decided to light the crater on fire in the hopes of burning off the methane. The crater has continued to burn throughout the decades and shows no signs of slowing down. So now, in the middle of the Karakum Desert, there’s a 100-feet deep crater that is persistently on fire. Naturally, the site is off limits to both tourists and almost all documentarians. You wouldn’t want to get pulled into Hell, would you?

#4: Beelitz-Heilstätten

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Germany Abandoned and deteriorating hospitals are inherently creepy places - never mind one with such a rich and disturbing history. Located in Beelitz, Germany this large hospital complex encompasses around 60 different buildings. The hospital was originally used as a tuberculosis sanatorium before it was converted to a war hospital. During World War I it housed injured soldiers of the Imperial German Army, including Adolf Hitler after he was wounded at the Battle of the Somme. It was later occupied by the Red Army throughout World War II and remained as a Soviet military hospital well into the ‘90s. Most of the complex is now a derelict ghost town, having been completely abandoned in 1994.

#3: Centralia

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Pennsylvania There’s an area of Pennsylvania that has essentially been on fire since 1962. In the early ‘60s, Centralia hosted roughly 1,500 residents, but the area suffered a horrific coal mine fire that is estimated to keep burning for another 250 years. The major detrimental effects weren’t really known until 1981, when a sinkhole randomly opened and nearly killed a 12-year-old boy. The government bought out most of the residents and had them relocated, leaving just 63 people by 1990. Today, the town hosts under a dozen citizens, and various signs are littered throughout the area warning of sudden ground collapse and fatal levels of carbon monoxide. A “graffiti highway” that became a destination spot in the area has been paved over as of 2020.

#2: Island of the Dolls

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Mexico Turns out there are many areas throughout the world populated by dolls. There’s a village in Japan called Nagoro which has become a famous tourist attraction due to its countless lifesize dolls. But perhaps the freakiest of all is Mexico City’s La Isla de las Muñecas, which is located in the canals of Xochimilco. The island contains hundreds of dolls, most of which are hung from the trees. Legend states that the spirit of a young girl haunted the island, forcing its owner to hang dolls from the trees to appease her ghost. The owner passed away in 2001 and the island became a popular tourist destination, even though some locals refuse to go there owing to superstition.

#1: Pripyat

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Ukraine Now here’s a ghost town. Pripyat is what was called a nuclear city, housing the employees of the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. It was the home of thousands of citizens until the power plant famously exploded on the morning of April 26, 1986, spreading an unbelievable amount of radiation into the area, including Pripyat. The town was not immediately evacuated, despite dozens of people falling ill and showing signs of acute radiation sickness. The evacuation was finally ordered 36 hours after the blast, and the city remains abandoned for long-term residents, although governmental authorities still did work in the area and there is now limited tourism. It is now part of the wider Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

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