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.
For Bone Church partisans, across Europe there are quite a few of them. The most well-known is probably the Sedlec Ossuary in the countryside of the Czech Republic, that counterparts with one located in Faro, Portugal, called Capela dos Ossos, which is one of the best-known monuments in Évora.
The Paris Catacombs are not exactly qualified as a bone church according to the tourist guides, however, the catacombs are abundant in human bones, giving it a wicked twist, somehow morbid if you consider how many people were buried in its walls. Also through Europe, the Capuchin Crypt in Rome, Italy, hosts circa four thousand bones of monks, followed by the Medieval Ossuary in Wamba, Spain which encloses human bones dating between the twelfth and eighteenth centuries. Hallstatt Karner in Hallstatt, Austria took a more artistic approach by displaying skulls adorned with paintings, and there is also quite a few more scattered throughout Italy and beyond.
In the Capuchin Crypt — located beneath the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini on the Via Veneto near Piazza Barberini in Rome, Italy — there is even a set of human bones that were arranged on the ceiling to look like the personification of the Grim Reaper, this is because and presumably, since the Grim Reaper was not terrifying already or deadly wicked enough without baring a vestment made of human bones.
The Borgvattnet is a small village in the Ragunda Municipality in northern Sweden, also known as The Haunted Vicarage. The first haunting apparition was reported in 1927 when the village chaplain was taking down some laundry and some unseen force abruptly started tearing the clothing off the line. The revenants here seem pretty feeble — knocking people out of rocking chairs, lurking and then fading into the night.
Perhaps it may be a display of ghostly existence before the frenzy takes place yet, the vicarage now operates as a restaurant and hotel, and if you dare to tempt the spirits and spend the entire night without been frightened and forced to flee, you get your very own overnight-stay-certificate to prove your uncanny bravery.
Any architecture when abandoned turns creepy, being involved in an aura of mystery is probably what does it — just like with any scary movies or adrenaline-inducing pleasures or activities, the element of the unknown is the scariest part of abandoned mansions.
County Galway in Ireland is known for its abandoned mansions that arise seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The Tyrone House, for instance, it is one of the most famous abandoned mansions surrounded by a fence with signs warning visitors not to approach, but there is no one around for miles to enforce this. The mansion is abandoned in every sense of the word and meaning: by the original family who owned it, by whomever it is that is supposed to be watching over it, and largely by the press media as well, who do not seem nearly as interested in investigating these abandoned mansions as it should be.
When it comes to tales about mummies the Egyptian culture comes to mind as an immediate reference, however, in Croatia there are quite a few impressive collections of embalmed human beings as well. It is said that Croatian mummies are somehow “mystical” — this mostly because the bodies do not appear to be carefully prepared for the afterlife regarding preservation. The mummies have failed to be preserved and have completely — and gruesomely decomposed — throughout the centuries. One of the mummies — a nun who died in the early 1500s — is considered by experts to be the best well-preserved mummy in Europe, and mysterious healings have been reported by those in close proximity to the infamous mummy.
The Torture Museum, in Amsterdam, is precisely what you would foresee from a torture museum: gloomy, worn, a slightly musty, and flawless with terrifying metal contraptions. Chairs covered in nails, wooden stretching tables, and helmets. It is disturbing to envision how some of these devices might have been used, but not as painful as actually reading the descriptions posted to the walls next to the devices, which describe exactly how they were used. The finale towards the exit of the museum is, of course, the torture device that Europe has made infamous: the guillotine.
The Ancient Ram Inn, in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom, is known for a very particular hotel, haunted and by far, considered one of the most ghostly hotels in the country which has been featured on several ghost-telling types of reality television shows in recent years.
The inn was built upon an ancient pagan burial ground, and the owner has found some of the human remains buried near and underneath the inn. It is still unnerving that the setting here is a little innocent-looking, quintessential British inn in the countryside.
Returning to Paris which is known for its rich culture and museums, particularly for the obscurity that surrounds some of them, but it is also a place that offers a darker, dirtier museum for you to visit. The Paris Sewers Museum might be the filthiest you can find under one of the most romantic cities in Europe. Sewers represent the underbelly of a city, the dirtiest parts — we associate them with rodents, pests, and rascals.
Allegedly, in the 1980s, a fully-grown crocodile surfaced in the sewers of Paris. We say “allegedly” because no one can seem to agree whether this actually happened or not — some sources say it is a confirmed fact and the crocodile now resides in the zoo; others claim this is just an urban legend.
The Tower of London is haunted by one of our favourite spirits in history: Anne Boleyn. In fact, countless books, movies, and television shows have depicted Henry VIII and his many wives, and Anne Boleyn is by far the most prevalent among them. She was tried for treason and locked away in the tower until her execution by beheading, also on the tower grounds.
Hundreds of prisoners were held captive in the tower (many of them tortured, depending on the crime), and though there are not any specific spirits that are famous for haunting these grounds, it is still fairly unsettling to wander around a space that was used for torture and executions for so many years.
In northwest Romania, Hoia Forest also holds a terrifying nature of its own which can be unsettling. It is a haunted forest located outside of Cluj-Napoca, better known for all things related to ghost stories, folklore, mysterious disappearances, inexplicable electronic malfunctions, and more.
Wanderers that endeavour to travel across the forest, often report what can be described as an intense feeling of being watched over their shoulders, and electronic devices will frequently malfunction on the forest grounds. Apparently, there is a “dead-zone” right at the heart of the forest where vegetation for some unexplainable reason, will not grow. There are certain trees that have slowly begun to grow crooked as if bowed by some unseen force. Some speculate that somewhere amid the mist of the forest, there is a gateway to an alternative dimension, but to date, it has not been confirmed nor has it been discarded as a possible source of origin to everything odd that occurs in the forest.
Edinburgh Castle, located in Edinburgh, Scotland, is a fortress considered by experts as one of the most haunted castles in the world. It has been somehow, the cradle to many spirits and sightings, besides odd occurrences that were reported and has undergone extensive paranormal experiments throughout the decades, the largest of which took place in 2001 and involved two hundred daring volunteers. The volunteers spent ten days in the castle totally unaware of ghost sightings or hauntings previously reported. The grand majority of them reported strange activity during this time period, the activity that had already been reported but that none of them knew about in advance.
The fortress has gone through hundreds of years of imprisonment and torture, murder, conspiracy and betrayal, plague quarantine and essentially, every wretched thing that humans could do to each other was done here.