haunted places across the globe
Illustration by Lauren Wood, The Ohio State University
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haunted places across the globe
Illustration by Lauren Wood, The Ohio State University

From the Island of the Dolls in Mexico to the Hoia-Baciu Forest in Romania, there are eerie and odd places across the globe.

The world is filled with interesting locations, some of which are said to be haunted. These locations include eerie forests, historical buildings and average homes. These hauntings could be legitimate, or they could simply stem from rumors and legends. Whatever the case, here are a few examples of haunted locales:

1. The Island of the Dolls

Called “La Isla de las Muñecas” in Spanish, this island is an example of a chinampa, or a floating garden made by the Aztecs. It is located south of Mexico City in the canals of Xochimilco.

The island gained its reputation because of a man named Don Julian Santana Barrera. He moved out to the canals for unclear reasons. The story goes that Barrera discovered a young girl’s body washed up on the shore and then later found a doll floating in the water. Barrera strung up the doll to honor the girl’s spirit. From there, he began collecting more and more dolls.

While the backstory of the island is quite spooky, the island would probably be considered haunted even without it. Dolls are a staple in horror, such as in the movie “Child’s Play.” Many dolls evoke the uncanny valley with their not-quite-human appearance; so, it’s no surprise that a remote place filled with thousands of dolls is considered haunted.

2. The Winchester Mystery House

Located in San Jose, California, The Winchester Mystery House was originally named Llanada Villa. The house’s owner, Sarah Winchester, oversaw its renovation. The house was expanded on from 1886, after Sarah moved west, to 1922, when Sarah died. The Winchester Mystery House sprawls. It started out with eight rooms and today has 130 rooms, 13 bathrooms and six kitchens.

The popular explanation for why Sarah made these odd renovations is ghosts. Sarah Winchester was the widow of William Wirt Winchester, the heir and treasurer to The Winchester Repeating Rifle. Sarah was told by a medium that she was haunted by those who had been killed by the Winchester rifle and that the only way to appease the spirits was to build a house.

Sarah herself was a very rich and very private woman, which led to many rumors. Sarah herself, along with the puzzle-box nature of the home, makes the Winchester Mystery House a haunted place. Sprawling and Escher-like, the Winchester Mystery House is uncanny because it is a house that is unlike any other.

3. The Tower of London

The Tower of London isn’t one tower, but a collection of them. The Tower had many uses, most famously as a prison. Because it was built in the 11th century, The Tower of London is one of the oldest prisons in the world.

The Tower’s status as a prison during the so-called “Dark Ages” is a large part of why it is considered haunted. Torture devices such as the rack were used in the building and there were many executions carried out on site. Catherine Howard and Anne Boleyn, two of King Henry VIII’s six wives, were executed in the Tower. Anne Boleyn’s case was particularly tragic, as she married King Henry in the very same building.

Another famous tale is The Princes in the Tower. Prince Edward and Prince Richard were imprisoned in the Tower by their uncle, Richard III. The two boys were locked away so that Richard III could take the throne, and it is unknown what really happened to them. However, two small skeletons were discovered in the Tower in 1674.

With its long history of betrayal, imprisonment and executions, the Tower of London has an appropriately haunted past.

4. The Sallie House

The Sallie House was built in the mid-1800s in Wichita, Kansas. Its original owners and inhabitants were the Finney family. The house gets its name and haunted origin from a story. The original owners had a daughter named Sallie who died from a botched appendix surgery. There wasn’t much activity in the house until 1993, when then-residents Debra and Tony Pickman reported strange occurrences.

The Sallie House is an interesting case. The Finneys had no daughter named Sallie, and although a Sallie did live in the house at one point, she did not die there. She also wasn’t a little girl. Perhaps the backstory and reputation of the house got ahead of it, or perhaps the house just went bad one day.

5. The Monte Cristo Homestead

The Monte Cristo was built in Junee, New South Wales in Australia. It was built in 1885 by a pioneer named Christopher William Crawley. The house is currently a historical monument in Australia.

A number of deaths occurred within and without the house, including those of a stableboy, a maid, a baby and a caretaker. Crawley himself died inside the house. The last family member left the homestead in 1948. After that, it stood empty for around 20 years.

6. The Hoia Baciu Forest

The Hoia Baciu forest is located in northwest Romania. Forests have long been associated with the unknown, and this forest is no exception. There are tales of mysterious disappearances and UFO sightings within the woods, along with other odd phenomena.

The oddly shaped trees in the woods may have something to do with the forest’s eerie reputation. Some trees curve strangely, as if forced to grow in an odd direction. Additionally, it is reported that there may be higher levels of uranium in the soil than normal, giving the forest a higher level of radioactivity. Despite these things, the Hoia Baciu forest is a relatively popular hiking spot.

When it comes to haunted places, there seems to be three types: places with long and terrible histories (The Tower of London, the Monte Cristo House), places that are uncanny (The Winchester Mystery House and the Island of the Dolls), and places that just go wrong (The Sallie House). These three types can overlap.

Haunted places are fascinating and draw many tourists. They can be a place to show the history of an area, or they can be a spectacle. The Tower of London, for example, holds centuries of history in its walls. But, people are also fascinated by the Lost Princes and the tragic fate of Anne Boleyn. However, sometimes people can get too wrapped up in the spectacle and forget the human side: For example, in 2017, YouTuber Logan Paul filmed a body in the Aokigahara forest, often called the “Japanese Suicide Forest” due to the high number of deaths that occur there. It is often listed as a haunted place. Paul’s behavior shows how the very real tragedy of a place can be ignored when the spectacle is more well known.

 

Writer Profile

Melissa Wade

Northern Arizona University
English

Melissa Wade is a student at Northern Arizona University. She is majoring in English and minoring in studio art.

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