The phenomenon of travelling to places associated with death, sufferance, disasters, mysticism, has diversified and spread very much in the last century (Stone and Sharpley, 2008). However, only relatively recent travels generically called “dark tourism” have captured the attention of researchers (Foley and Lennon, 1996a; Lennon and Foley, 2000).
As in the Romanesque period, the best Gothic sculptors were employed on architectural decoration. The most important examples of stone sculpture to survive are on portals, as in the Basilica of Saint-Denis whose western portals (constructed 1137-1140), combined features that remained common throughout the Gothic period: a carved tympanum; carved figures arranged in the voussoirs, or wedge-shaped pieces, of the arch; and more figurative carvings attached to the sides of the portal. As it survives, the Basilica of Saint-Denis is rather disappointing; the side figures have been lost and the remainder heavily restored.
The development of Scotland’s landscapes as a repository of the mysterious and ghostly, and its emergence as a designation, has been thoroughly intermingled from the very beginning of modernity. The very earliest tourists, who began to journey to Scotland from the middle of the eighteenth-century onwards, were English. They were drawn to this destination and its landscape in a search for extraordinary sensations and sights which they believed could not be found at home.
It is (western) society’s apparent contemporary fascination with death, real or fictional, media inspired or otherwise, that is seemingly driving the dark tourism phenomenon. Further to this, Marcel Schmier noted the range and diversity of dark tourism supply when she examined whether “death makes a holiday,” and consequently suggested that dark tourism is the dirty little secret of the tourism industry. Nevertheless, before the democratization of travel, dark tourism had a number of precursors and indeed death has been an element of tourism longer than any other form of tourism supply, often through religious or pilgrimage purposes.
Sibiu was elected in 2007 as the European Capital of Culture, which facilitated the knowledge of foreign tourists of the central area of Romania. Some of these tourists only came to visit Sibiu for a few days but extended their visit to discover these invaluable treasures of Europe: the fortified Saxon churches.
Through the centuries, Europe has given us so much to be thankful for; magnificent castles, art movements, deranged artists, fashion icons, exquisite landscapes — but it has also given us a few things to be frightened of; creepy, spooky things. The other continents have their dose of eerie things as well, but there are certain haunted places and myths that feel sharply European, the same way that the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, in France, would feel out of place anywhere other than Europe.