Home Life 26.9.2013 06:00 am

Terrifying tours of terror

THEM BONES. Tourists visit the Paris catacombs. Picture. AFP.

THEM BONES. Tourists visit the Paris catacombs. Picture. AFP.

Before there was Amityville, there was Harrisville. The Conjuring tells the horrifying true story of Ed and Lorraine Warren, world renowned paranormal investigators, who were called to help a family terrorised by a dark presence in a secluded farmhouse.

Forced to confront a powerful demonic entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in their most terrifying case.

While the film is inspired by one terrifying true story, paranormal events and hauntings are a worldwide phenomenon. Here are a few of what many consider the world’s most haunted places.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Constructed as a military fortress in the 12th century, Edinburgh Castle is one of Europe’s most haunted places. Some of its legends originate in the tunnels that connect the castle to the Royal Mile the main thoroughfare or Edinburgh’s Old Town where the faint sounds of music can sometimes be heard. It is said that years ago, a piper was sent into the tunnels, instructed to keep playing music so he could be tracked, but he never emerged alive.

The cells of Edinburgh’s dungeons and forgotten chambers are also the reported home to a host of spirits, including Lady Janet Douglas of Glamis, who was accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake, and Duke Alexander Stewart of Albany, who mounted a violent escape from the prison. Volunteers in investigator Richard Wiseman’s 2001 paranormal excursion spent time in the dark recesses of Edinburgh and reported seeing shadowy figures and flashes of light, feeling sudden drops in temperature, and hearing the apparitional breathing.

 

FORGOTTEN CHAMBERS. The equestrian statue of Field Marshal Earl Haig at Edinburgh Castle. Picture. AFP.

FORGOTTEN CHAMBERS. The equestrian statue of Field Marshal Earl Haig at Edinburgh Castle. Picture. AFP.

 

Bhangarh Fort, India

Two legends account for the so-called “Curse of Bhangarh” that originates in a town in Rajasthan, India, founded in 1573. In the first, King Madho Singh is said to have ignored the warnings of a holy man named Guru Balu Nath, who sanctioned the establishment of the town only if the buildings remained modest in size. “The moment the shadows of your palaces touch me, the city shall be no more!” When, generations later, a palace was built that cast shadows on Balu Nath’s retreat, a famine befell the city.

Another version of the legend alleges that a love-struck wizard cursed the town after being rejected by a princess and perishing. Even today, signs outside the stone ruins forbid entry to the cursed site after twilight. It is believed that those who ignore such warnings will never find their way out of the warren of half-demolished structures and abandoned temples.

Though few dare to enter Bhangarh, people in the surrounding villages have reported seeing the ancient city lit up at night and hearing sounds of laughter from beyond the walls.

 

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons (Navjot Singh)

The Bhangarh Fort in India is reportedly haunted. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons (Navjot Singh)

 

Catacombs of Paris, France

At least 643km of tunnels snake beneath the streets of Paris, although no one knows for sure how many passageways, narrow corridors and dead ends exist in this dark maze. Explorers have found at least seven levels of passages descending to 91m below street level. Many of these tunnels have collapsed. Others are filled with water.

In the 17th century, the bones of six million poor Parisians were reportedly exhumed and dumped in the catacombs when the cemeteries around the city became overcrowded. Explorers have reported seeing shadowy ghosts fleeing down passageways. Some have reported being touched and grabbed by unseen forces.

 

The Monte Cristo Homestead in New South Wales is supposedly the most haunted house in Australia. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons (Bidgee)

The Monte Cristo Homestead in New South Wales is supposedly the most haunted house in Australia. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons (Bidgee)

 

Monte Cristo Homestead, New South Wales, Australia

This historic Victorian manor, also known as Australia’s most haunted house, has seen its share of tragedy and ghostly phenomena. Built by Christopher Crawley in 1885, Monte Cristo is said to be haunted by Elizabeth Crawley, Christopher’s brutal wife. After her husband’s death, Elizabeth Crawley became a virtual recluse, rarely leaving the upstairs room of the house that she’d converted into a chapel. After the last of the Crawley clan left the house in 1948, it fell into disrepair.

A family bought the home in the late 1950s and began a restoration, but reportedly shared the house with Elizabeth’s ghost, who was said to appear clad in black and carrying a silver crucifix. The legend has it that Elizabeth still considered herself the matriarch of Monte Cristo and has ordered people out of the dining room.

Other disturbing entities reportedly at Monte Cristo include the spirit of a young woman who has been sighted on the balcony, where a pregnant housemaid is said to have jumped to her death, and the spirit of the Crawley’s daughter, who allegedly haunts the staircase. The young girl fell to her death when her nanny was “shoved by an unseen force”. The tales of Monte Cristo also include the death of a stable boy in a barn fire, the murder of a caretaker, and the imprisonment of a mentally ill man in the guest cottage.

 

The Waverley Hills Sanitorium. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons (Kris Arnold)

The Waverley Hills Sanitorium. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons (Kris Arnold)

 

Waverly Hills Sanitorium, Louisville, Kentucky, US

During the height of the TB epidemic, hundreds of people perished at Waverly Hills. The dead were placed in a tunnel, known as “the chute,” and transported to waiting trains at the bottom of the hill. After the advent of anti-biotics, the TB epidemic waned and Waverly eventually closed in 1962. It reopened the following year as a geriatric hospital, when rumours of barbaric treatment plagued it until it closed for good in 1982. Over the next couple of decades, the abandoned hospital became a haven for Louisville’s homeless and ghost-hunting teenagers.

Stories of spectral activity at Waverly became legend. The Louisville Ghost Hunters Society has hosted numerous conferences and ghosts tours at the hospital. Investigators have reported having objects thrown at them, smelling unusual scents, hearing footsteps and slamming doors, and seeing figures in the corridors, including running children in the solarium and a ghostly man in the kitchen.

The fifth floor of the hospital is also rumoured to be the site of much ghostly activity, including Room 502, where two Waverly nurses jumped to their deaths.

 

 

 

 

 

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