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This year bring together your passion for sustainable travel and upgrade your Halloween experience to something more realistic than plastic puppets and spooky paraphernalia by visiting one of these haunted cities and locations from around the world. From serial murder scenes and plague infested halls to vicious landlords and pagan sacrifices, these are 13 of the most spectral (or spectacular?) places to visit to get real for Halloween.
1) Adulterous ghost: Brissac Castle, Loire France
The Loire region is renowned for its eye-candy castles, but only one of them is haunted. The resident specter of Brissac Castle is an elegant lady in a green dress. The Green Lady is reputed to be the ghost of Charlotte De Breze, the illegitimate daughter of King Charles VII, who was killed by her husband in a fit of rage when he discovered her with her lover.
Where to stay: Since we’re going for castles, get a room at the Best Western Plus Villa Saint Antoine Hotel & Spa in nearby Clisson to enjoy the view of the town’s beautiful medieval castle. No ghost sightings have been reported here, but you never know … after all it’s Halloween!
2) Creepy toys: Island of Dolls, Xochimilco Mexico City, Mexico
Ph: Esparta Palma
If creepy toys is your thing, then head to the Isla de las Munecas, just South of Mexico City. Local lore tells the story of a little girl who drowned in the Xochimilco river. Her body was discovered by the caretaker of the island, who a few days later found a doll floating in the same river. Interpreting it as a sign, he put the doll on a tree so the spirit of the girl could find it, and just to be on the safe side he added more dolls to keep her spirit happy. Even if there have not been any ghost sightings, the Island of Dolls is considered one of the most unsettling places in the world and, being in Mexico, you can also count on an extended spook fest as Halloween is followed by the Dias de los Muertos.
What to do: The island of Dolls is within the Xochimilco Urban Eco-Reserve, the last part of Mexico City to preserve the ancient system of canals and farms built by the Aztecs. At this UNESCO heritage site it’s possible to explore the canals and discover the chinampas, the ancient agricultural system made by island plots of farmland between the canals.
3) Domestic Murderers: New York City, NY, USA
With all the humanity that passed through this city, by the laws of probability, it’s inevitable that some tormented souls have carried out their nefarious deeds along these streets and then remained to haunt them. The most infamous haunted spots in New York City are the Kreischer Mansion on Staten Island, and the Morris-Jumel House, now a museum, in Washington Heights.
Kreischer Mansion is surrounded by all kinds of spooky stories from the wailing lady, supposedly the ghost of Mrs Kreischer lamenting the suicide of her husband, to the spirit of a German cook murdered in the house and the souls of kids locked in the closet for punishment. The Morris Jumel building is the oldest house in the city and it is reputed to host at least 5 specters: Stephen Jumel, the first owner of the house who died in mysterious circumstances, his wife who was accused to be the murderess, a serving girl, a British soldier from the Revolutionary War, and Aaron Burr, once vice-president of the United States and killer of Alexander Hamilton in a duel, who became the second husband of Eliza Bowen Jumel.
Where to stay: Originally constructed as part of the Grand Central Terminal expansion, The Intercontinental Barclay Hotel became a notable railroad hotel built to service the men and women traveling to New York City. Today, after undergoing its most ambitious restoration, the Barclay continues to deliver its residential feel with modern comfort through its signature Federalist style decor. A family-owned boutique hotel in the heart of Manhattan, The Roger Smith Hotel provides a welcoming, affordable and centrally located home base in the bustling Midtown East neighborhood.
4) Illustrious ghosts: White House – Washington, DC, USA
Without going into the creepy reality show that is currently going on in the most famous building of the US, the White House is said to be haunted by several distinguished ghosts. Sightings include: Abigail Adams, wife of the second US president, who loves to carry the laundry basket towards the East Room; David Burns, the owner of the land on which the US capital has been built; presidents Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Harry Truman are also all still fretting about some important unfinished national business.
Where to stay: The Embassy Row Hotel is not only situated in the coolest neighborhood of the US capitol but is also eco-friendly.
5) Suicide hotspot: Aokigahara Sea of Trees, Japan
Resting on western slope of Japan’s most iconic mountain is the one of the world’s most popular spot for hara-kiri. The Aokigahara Forest, a.k.a. the Sea of Trees, is second only to the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco for number of suicides. In 2003, 105 bodies were discovered in the forest, but in recent years the Japanese government has not been releasing figures in order not to advertise the phenomenon. In local folklore, the forest has always been home to the ghosts of the dead, who now are joined by the tormented souls who are looking for the peace that they couldn’t find in life.
Before you leave the forest stop by to admire the renowned Ice Cave, where giant icicles can reach up to 3 m (10ft) height.
Where to stay: the Solar Cafe & Farm is not just a place to stay but also a place to learn about innovative sustainable design and farming.
6) Witches Sabbah and Labyrinth – Blå Jungfrun Island
Ph.: Mingusrude – Wikimedia
For centuries the local folklore has considered this small Baltic island as the location of witch covens, and recent archeological discoveries have confirmed that it had been the site of pagan rituals thousands of years ago. Also known as Blåkulla (The Blue Maiden), the island is renowned for its ancient stone labyrinth. But don’t even think to take one of those rocks as souvenir! It is considered bad luck to remove the water polished stones from the island and every year the local authorities receive many stones back in the mail with accounts of the tragic deeds they brought on their senders.
Where to stay: Island hop to nearby Visby to spend the night. This marine town has its own eerie site at the St. Nicholas church ruins. Stay at the Clements Hotel to experience some authentic earth-friendly Scandinavian hospitality.
7) Far West Ghost Town – Bannack, MT, USA
No list of spooky destinations can be complete without a Far West ghost town. Bannack (Montana), founded after the discovery of a major gold mine, reached its heydays in 1864, when it was briefly the state’s capital. The Meade Hotel was at the center of the city’s social life and it has kept some of its guests up to this day. Sightings of an old lady on the second floor and other unexplained phenomena have been reported at the hotel. The ghost of a young girl in a blue dress who drowned in a nearby pond, has also been spotted in the neighborhood.
Where to stay: Montana’s historic Boulder Hot Springs Inn and Spa rests in the midst of southwest Montana’s spectacular beauty of snow-capped mountains and lush valleys. The Inn & Spa sits on almost 300 acres of pristine meadows, wetlands and forest. At the hotel, guests can also enjoy mineral-laden, pure geothermal waters, which are used in the indoor plunges, the outdoor swimming pool, the natural mineral steam rooms, and they also to heat the entire building!
8) Environmental disaster – Centralia, PA
Some towns are abandoned because of the lack of business, while others are abandoned because of environmental disasters. To learn a lesson on out-of-control land exploitation, just travel to Centralia in Pennsylvania, the town that has inspired the cult horror movie “Silent Hill”. As a result of a coal mine fire the town’s soil has been smoldering, and emitting toxic gases, since 1962. The location is a real Hell on Earth, visit for some Halloween thrills, just don’t linger…
Where to Stay: Head over to Harrisburgh, a city so well attended by ghosts that has its own Paranormal Society, and enjoy the hospitality of the recently renovated and ecofriendly Homewood Suites by Hilton.
9) Vampires & Murdered Nobility – London
Lord Horace Walpole is considered the inventor of the gothic and horror genres with his novel “The Tower of Otranto” (1746), since then, London has been a favorite destination of ghosthunters, as well as the backdrop of several real horror stories from Jack the Ripper to Stephen Port and his 58 victims. Two locations in particular are the most renowned spots for creepy goosebumps. The Tower of London, where the spirits of Edward V and his younger sibling Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, reputed to have been killed there by their uncle regent, and the romantically decadent Gothic Highgate Cemetery, where rumors of a vampire and other ghoulish figures sightings, have been circulating for over 100 years.
Where to stay: Take refuge from gothic ghosts that most certainly will not follow you at the QBic Hotel, an eclectic eco hotel in hip East London.
10) Damned by the Gods, Asirgarh Fort
This Mughal style fort was built in the 15th century by a local lord, on its grounds can also be found an earlier mosque and an older temple dedicated to Shiva. According to local legends, this temple is haunted by the spirit of Ashwatthama, a character of the epic Mahābhārata, who was cursed by Lord Krishna for his ambition to immortality. Locals claim that Ashwathama is seen at night around the Asirgarh Fort. Occasionally, he’s so bold to ask for turmeric and oil to stop the blood of his forehead, but beware whoever has met him has lost mental stability.
Where to stay. Well, the fort is off the tourism beaten path, so there are neither fancy hotels nor yoga ashrams open to tourists in the region. Best solution to visit the area that has several other attractions (tiger natural reserves, historic temples and shrines) is to stay at the http://www.hoteltajholiday.in/.
11) Sleeping with ghosts – Montecristo Homestead, NSW, Australia
Ph: Andrew Matthews
Australia’s most haunted house boasts among its sightings: a pregnant caretaker pushed over a balcony and another shot dead, a baby thrown down the stairs, a stable boy tragically burnt to death while he slept, and a mentally ill man killing his mother. The mansion is currently a B&B, with ghost museum and ghost tours, so its guests can enjoy the most sleepless night of their lives in company of specters. http://www.montecristo.com.au/
12) The restless Pharaoh: Farafra, Egypt
Another Halloween classic, another continent. Legends say that the ghost of the pharaoh Akhenaten wanders the Farafra Desert (also known as the White Desert) of Egypt, his sightings have been reported by both of tourists and natives. Legend says that Akhenaten abolished the Egyptian gods when he became Pharaoh, angering the religious followers and priests of Egypt; when he died the priests cursed him to walk in the desert until the end of time as punishment.
What to do: See the White Desert! Little known among Egyptian attractions but impressive natural beauty
In Javanese its name means “a thousand doors“, and several headless specters seem to enjoy its airy halls together with the spirit of a Dutchwoman who committed suicide. Te former headquarters of the Dutch East Indies Railway Company is located in the center of Semarang (Central Java) and was built at the beginning of the 20th century. During World War 2 it was occupied by the Japanese forces who used the basement as a prison. Several executions took place on the grounds of this complex at the time. Since 2009 the Indonesian government has started a program to renovate the buildings and erase its creepy reputation.
Where to stay: The Oak Tree Emerald Semarang Hotel is a pleasant green oasis on the hills of Semarang and far enough from the Thousand Doors to guarantee a peaceful night.