It’s said that the tortured souls of long-dead monks wander the grounds of Christchurch Priory, a grand parish church on the south coast of England. Nearby streets are stalked by the ghosts of ‘grey ladies’ and on paranormal tours of the old Saxon town tourists can visit a shop that locals abandoned, spooked by the frequent ghostly happenings.
Set amid serene Loire Valley scenery, Château de Brissac’s turreted façade hides some gruesome tales. Like the story of fifteenth-century nobleman Jacques de Brézé, who found his wife entangled with another man and murdered them both with a sword. Since then, visitors have heard frightful cries echoing through the castle.
The Bavarian nun Maria Renata von Mossau was one of the last people in Germany to be tried for witchcraft. After admitting to a string of crimes including Satanism and sorcery, she was decapitated and her body was cremated. More than 260 years later, people still report seeing her spirit traipsing through corridors at Kloster Unterzell, the convent she attended.
Dutch colonialists built Lawang Sewu and the Japanese turned it into a brutal detention camp, where prisoners were interrogated and tortured. Some were even killed. These days, tourists come to hunt for ghosts among its decaying towers and arches, which, in 2007, provided the backdrop for an Indonesian horror film.
Climbers tackling Everest have apparently been egged on by the well-meaning ghost of Andrew Irvine, who disappeared while trying to climb the mountain in 1924. He and fellow mountaineer George Mallory, whose body was found in 1999, were less than a thousand feet from becoming the first men to reach the top. Irvine’s body has still never been found.
Oslo’s fortress, known to locals as Akershus Festning, has been in use since the thirteenth century, serving time as a castle, a prison, and even a base for the Nazis during their occupation of Norway. Resident ghouls include the ghost of a dog, which was buried alive in the Middle Ages to scare away intruders.
Akershus Castle in Oslo, Norway © np/Shutterstock
Now open as a bed and breakfast, this plantation in Louisiana bills itself as one of America’s most haunted places. Local legend says that in the 1800s, a slave poisoned the plantation owner’s family and was hanged for her crime. Since then, she and the dead children have been spotted wandering through the grounds.
With paths lined by mossy Victorian stonework, Highgate Cemetery is the final resting place of around 170,000 people, including the philosopher Karl Marx. The usually sleepy burial ground hit headlines in the 1970s, when reports of a blood-sucking, ghost-like figure started doing the rounds and occultists desecrated old tombs, apparently in a bid to track down the mysterious ‘vampire’.
South Africa’s oldest building is also its most haunted. Built by the Dutch East India Company in the seventeenth century, the star-shaped Castle of Good Hope was long used as a prison, where inmates would be chained up, tortured and executed. Today, soldiers guarding the fort after dark are still troubled by the victims’ blood-curdling calls for mercy.
With 10 hectares of gardens shaded by tall trees, Tao Dan Park gives residents of Ho Chi Minh City a chance to escape from the frenetic traffic. But when the sun goes down, some locals have a hard time relaxing. It’s said the ghost of a young man who was killed in a vicious attack still prowls the park, looking for his lost lover.
Few places are better suited to ghost stories than Prague, a city with strong ties to alchemy, mysticism and the occult. The Convent of St Agnes, the city’s first gothic building, is one of the creepier spots. People say a murdered nun still haunts the place, and can appear in front of visitors. Sometimes she smiles softly but often she’s crying and covered in blood.
Vlad the Impaler – the bloodthirsty ruler named after his favourite method of execution – was kept prisoner at Corvin Castle, in the hills of Transylvania. Many think this explains the strange sightings at the castle, which include vampire-like figures appearing in the candlelit corridors.
Striped like a barber’s pole, the St Augustine Lighthouse in Florida acts like a beacon for ghost hunters, who come to explore the tower and the keeper’s house after dark, using glow sticks to light the way. They also get the chance to hear spooky stories about the lighthouse, and the family that died during its construction. Supposedly a man and his daughters all drowned when the lighthouse slipped loose and tumbled into the bay. Locals insist the girls can be heard laughing in the tower, and one has occasionally been sighted wearing the same velvet blue dress and hair bow she died in.
Abandoned in 1971, this Philadelphia jail quickly fell into disrepair. Then the weather worn building opened as a museum, and began attracting the attention of ghost-chasing TV crews. The museum's audio tour describes numerous ghoulish sightings and a locksmith reported overwhelming paranormal feelings. Each year around Halloween, a haunted house opens for business, with actors paid to give visitors a fright.
One of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War left bodies strewn across this battlefield in the state of Pennsylvania. Visitors claim to have seen and photographed the ghosts of soldiers wandering across the fields and, not surprisingly, the local ghost-tour industry is booming.
Before docking permanently in California, the ocean liner Queen Mary carried some famous passengers, including Winston Churchill and Greta Garbo. These days it’s better known for its uninvited guests, like the ghost of a young child who is said to have drowned in the luxury liner’s swimming pool.
The world’s oldest underground railway has had more than 150 years to accumulate its juicy collection of ghost stories. Among the stations with a reputation for paranormal activity is Bethnal Green. During the Second World War, 173 civilians were crushed to death when rumours of an air raid triggered panic. Years on, people working at the station report hearing their screams.
The first time that ghosts appeared at this former Roman Catholic mission in San Antonio was 1836, shortly after the Battle of the Alamo. Later, when the mission was converted into a prison, inmates began complaining of unusual shadows and sounds, and terrified watchmen apparently refused to work the night shift.
In 1999, a homeless person broke into a coffin at this Edinburgh graveyard, hoping for a good night’s sleep. Soon after, people wandering through the graveyard began emerging with strange injuries, like scratched skin and broken fingers. Over the next few years, 140 people collapsed on tours of the cemetery, and the city council decided to seal the grave up again for good.
Lurking inside Trondheim’s majestic soapstone cathedral is the grisly ghost of a monk. Described as a tall figure with a dark habit, he reveals himself to churchgoers with blood dripping from a wound on his neck, and is apparently able to walk right through members of the congregation without them feeling a thing.
Thanks to its location in the centre of modern Beijing, the Forbidden City lacks some of the cobwebby spookiness usually associated with haunted places. But today’s well-scrubbed, tourist-friendly exterior hides a bloody history, and the ghosts of murdered concubines have been spotted in the city after dark.
Lantern-lit ghost tours give visitors the chance to hear stories about this Tasmanian town’s troubled past as a convict settlement in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Those who want to maximise their chances of a meeting a ghost can join a special paranormal investigation, armed to the teeth with ghoul-tracking gizmos.
Ghosts of the British Raj are said to haunt this regal Pakistani palace, pieced together from pink and yellow stone. Palace employees claim to have felt the presence of spirits inside the palace at night, and some have even seen objects moving of their own accord.
Although many expected him to be struck down by a pharaoh’s curse, Howard Carter, the English archaeologist who discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb, lived until the age of 63. Though some believe his spirit lives on at the Great Pyramid in Giza – around 400 miles north of King Tut’s tomb – in the form of a frightening ghost.
Almost 100 stone cottages sit abandoned at the foot of a mountain on Achill Island, County Mayo. The buildings are at least 800 years old, but have not been lived in since the early twentieth century, when farmers used them as summer accommodation. More than one party has reported paranormal activity around the stones, and the local tourist board warns scaredy cats against camping in the area, hinting at the prospect of “ghostly encounters”.
This remote Namibian outpost is a real ghost town. Built on a diamond rush, it became extremely wealthy but began declining during the 1950s when the precious stones ran dry. Now it’s been given over to the desert and, if you believe the rumours, ghosts are beginning to reclaim the abandoned buildings.
The story of Bodie, California, begins with the discovery of gold. Prospecting miners rushed to the area and the town quickly grew into a Wild West boomtown, complete with murders and hold ups. Today it’s uninhabited, but some believe the ghosts of Bodie patrol the ruins to protect their crumbling town from thieves, and according to legend, anyone who removes an object from the town will be plagued by the curse of Bodie, which promises a string of bad luck.