Halloween Special: The World’s Most Macabre Attractions

With Halloween just around the corner (does Halloween make you more excited than Christmas like me?!), things are beginning to get spookier and spookier. We have selected some of the world’s scariest locations to inspire you to pack your bags and explore at least one this Halloween. Trick or Treat?!

1. The Skull Chapel

The Skull Chapel
Credit: Merlin

St. Barhtolomew’s Church is located in Czermna, one of the oldest villages in the Klodzko County in Poland. Often dubbed “the Skull Chapel”, this innocent-from-the-outside-looking chapel holds macabre secrets on its inside. The church is one of the most disturbing attractions in Europe along with similarly creepy locations such as the Sedlec Ossuary in Czech Republic.

Built in 1776 by the Czech priest Wacław Tomaszek, this chapel acts as the grave for those who perished during the Thirty Year’s War, the Silesian Wars as well as those who died as a result of cholera, the plague, syphilis and hunger.

And why exactly is it called the the Skull Chapel?

Between the years 1776 and 1794, father Tomaszek, J. Schmidt and J. Langer, a grave digger collected the bones and put them in the chapel to decorate its walls. Today, the chapel is filled with three thousand skulls and its basement holds the bones of about twenty thousand people. Creepy, right? There is an altar on the center of the chapel where the skulls of the people who built the chapel as well as father Tomaszek’s skull itself were places in 1804.

2. City of the Dead

City of the Dead
Credit: Alex Svirkin

Located on the outskirts of Dargavs (Дæргъæвс), a tiny settlement in the North Ossetia-Alania Region of Russia is a necropolis that is often dubbed “The City of the Dead”. There is little to no tourism here due to the tough road to get there and locals abstain from visiting due to a tale that any man who walks in does not come out alive. If you decide to come, chances are you will have the place all to yourself – but do you really want to be alone in a place like this?

The City of the Dead’s crypts have ridged curved roofs with a pointed peak at the top. Smaller crypts have flat sides on the front and back walls but their sides are curved inwards and some don’t have roofs. In total, there are ninety nine tombs and crypts.

Heartbreaking tales tell the stories of people with no family left would go into the crypts to await their deaths during plagues as there would be no one left to bury them.

When you visit, you will find many coins on the ground as Ossietians believed that if you threw a coin from a hill and it hit a rock, then it mean that the soul of your deseased loved one had reached heaven.

Another tradition was to bury bodies in tiny wooden boats as it was believed that souls had to cross a river after death.

3. Capuchin Crypt

Capuchin Crypt
Credit: Dnalor 01

Note: Not to be confused with the Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo.

The Capuchin Crypt is located beneath the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini near Piazza Barberini in Rome. The crypt contains almost four thousand skeletons. Bones are nailed to the walls in ordered manners while others are piled in corners and even some are hung from the ceiling. These crypts are one of the most macabre sights in Europe even though the Catholic order insists that is meant to be a reminder of your own mortality and not to be seen in a “creepy” way. However, many describe their visit as morbid and the place as one of the most revolting things they have seen in their lifetime.

The skeletons in the crypts belong mostly to deceased friars and the soil in the cryps were brought straight from Jerusalem in the 17th century. The first bodies were brought here in 1631 by monks who had moved from their old monastery. The longest-buried monk was exhumed to make space for new bodies.

The crypt is divided into six rooms: The Crypt of Resurrection, which features a picture of Jesus framed by bones. The Crypt of Three Skeletons, the Crypt of Skulls, the Crypt of Leg and Thigh Bones, the Crypt of Pelvises and finally, the Mass Chapel, which does not contain any bones and is used for masses.

4. Akodessewa Fetish Market

Akodessewa Fetish Market
Credit: Dominik Schwarz

Located in the capital of Togo, Lomé, is one of the creepiest markets in the world – the haven for those who practice voodoo. Akodessewa is the largest fetish market in the world and you will find anything you might need for a ritual – a leopard head? an orangutan skull? an elephant foot? piles of decaying animal bodies? You name it. The chief of the market has stated that the primary purpose of these, er… “ingredients”, is to create medicines to heal rather than black magic.

The market is located outdoors, but that makes it no less eerie. As a tourist, you can visit the market, but be advised that it might be quite scarring to see all the sacrificed animals. Another thing that is important to note is that once you approach a stand, the voodoo chief will quickly prompt you to purchase something (which might be okay for some people, but perhaps others, such as myself, are only interested in the experience of being there rather than taking home an alligator’s tail), so in some occasions, it’s best to stay a few meters away and learn to ignore the sellers. And good luck explaining that leopard head in your luggage at customs!

5. Hanging Coffins in Sagada

Hanging Coffins in Sagada
Credit: Aldrin J. Garces

Hanging coffins are places on cliffs and can be found in several Asian countries such as China, Indonesia and the Philippines. Some of the most famous hanging coffins can be found in Sagada, in the Philippines. It is a traditional way of putting people to rest after their deaths in the area and the method is still used to date. However, not everyone is qualified to be in these coffins. For example, a requirement is that the person had to have been married and had at least one grandchild. The tradition of hanging coffins has existed for more than two millennia.

The reason bodies are places so high up is to move them closer to their ancestral spirits. Another reason is to maintain the bodies safe from quickly rotting.


Credit: Pedro Felipe

Today a museum, the Tequendama Falls Museum was originally built as a mansion in 1923 by architect Carlos Arturo Tapias and was originally named “The Mansion of Tequendama Falls” due to its location near the infamous waterfall. The exterior features French architecture and its primary purpose was for it to be a symbol of the elegance of the elite class in Colombia. It is located approximately 30 kilometers southeast of Bogotá.

In 1950, the mansion was turned into a hotel and Salto was visited by illustrious characters such as Simon Bolívar and Manuelita Sáenz. In the 1990’s, however, the hotel was abandoned due to the polluted river that began to produce a foul odor.

It has been said by the neighbours of the building that the mansion is haunted as many suicides occurred on site. Is it true? Come and see for yourself.

Today, the mansion can be visited as it was recently turned into a museum of sciences by the Institute of Natural Sciences of the National University of Colombia.

7. Church of Ghosts

Church of Ghosts
Credit: Europics / Moala Richard Sulko

Located in Luková, a tiny village in the Pardubice Region in Czech Republic, is this spooky 14th century church, commonly dubbed the “Church of Ghosts”.

Falling into disrepair in 1968 after the roof collaped during a funeral, the church was completely abandoned for forty years. Artist Jakub Hadrava was commissioned to bring it back to life. And it worked. Soon, peoples from all around the world began to flock to this formerly unknown village to see the result with their own eyes.

And what did he do? He created ghost-like statues to fill the isles and pews and make the place unique (and quite frightening!). Hadrava has stated that the statues represent the Sudeten Germans who once lived in the village before the second World War and often came to the church to pray.

To get a better insight into how the church looks, check out this video!

8. Sedlec Ossuary

Sedlec Ossuary

Sedlec Ossuary, also called The Church of Bones, rightfully makes it into the list of the world’s most macabre places for the reason that it is entirely decorated by human bones. It is a rather small Roman Catholic chapel which would normally not catch the attention of passers-by if seen from the outside but it is what is inside it that has made is one of the twelve UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Czech Republic. The chapel is located in Kutná Hora (another UNESCO World Heritage Site) in the Central Bohemia region.

Human bones are displayed everywhere and form intricate pieces of work and furniture – one of the most spectacular among them is the chandelier that contains at least one bone in the human body and hangs in the center of the church, making it the main attraction. Other fascinating works are the altar, the coat of arms of House of Schwarzenberg family and the signature of Frantisek Rint, the artist who created the decorations.

And of course, an eerie place like this deserves an equally eerie story behind it:

In the year 1278, the King of Bohemia sent the abbot of the region to Jerusalem and upon his return, he sprinkled soil he had brought from the land all over the cemetery. For this reason, many people requested to be buried there upon their deaths. During the Black Death, especially, the cemetery around the church became so crowded that it had to be expanded and not long after, it became neglected. During the 15th century, the existing chapel was built and its basement was used to store the bodies and they remained scattered inside it for centuries until a half-blind monk was given the task to put the bones in order.

In 1870, a woodcarver named Frantisek Rint was hired to put the stack the bones in their rightful order. Needless to say, he got slightly over-inspired and created the macabre artworks seen now.

The entrance fee is 50 Koronas for adults. For students and children, the fee is 30 Koronas. An additional photo fee of 30 Koronas is charged for those who wish to take pictures, but it is rarely asked for.

9. St. Michan’s Church

St. Michan’s Church
Credit: Driversguide

The church’s vault contain mummified remains and dozens of coffins. It is said that Bram Stoker once visited the vaults and it was here where his morbid taste was inspired from. The vaults are only able to be seen due to a loophole in the church’s rules.

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