Real-Life Haunts

Image from Flickr user base10

Halloween is just around the corner, and celebration preparations are underway all around – pumpkins being sold and carved, candy being sold in bulk, costumes being dreamed up and made. Halloween imagery starts to pop up everywhere  this time, such as black and orange motifs, cobwebs, and of course, the haunted house.

Scene from "A Nightmare Before Christmas"

Over the years, the haunted house has become a part of the standard set of Halloween imagery, and around this time theme parks start to plan fancy schemes for their fright fests, haunted mansions, forests, and sometimes, the entire park as well. As we all know however, these are all fictitious performances, simulating the experience in an exaggerated fashion.

The Haunted Mansion attraction at Disneyland. Image from Wikimedia commons.

Haunted place attractions have a basis though – and many sites around the world are believed to be haunted, according to legends, urban and traditional. Here are a few of some of the famous scary sites in the world.

Balete Drive and the White Lady

Balete Dr

Image from Flickr user _gem_

Balete is the Filipino name for a large tree with sprawling roots. In traditional Filipino folklore this tree is believed to be the dwelling place of spirits and supernatural beings. In the capital city of Manila, there is a street called Balete drive, which is the setting for a popular urban legend. In one version of the legend, a young girl was assaulted, violated, and killed by a taxi driver before she was thrown and left by a Balete tree. The many versions of the story resulted in a film that became largely popular in the 1980’s.

Image from Flickr user Jet Rabe

Okiku’s Well, Himeji Castle

Image from Flickr user Jamie Barras

Ghost stories are a part of traditional Japanese culture, with the ghosts taking on different forms depending on the type of story. One famous ghost story and legend is that of Okiku’s well, in Himeji Castle. The story tells of a servant woman who served the lord of the castle, was betrayed, and put to death wrongly. She reached her demise when someone threw her in the well, which is why she haunts it particularly.

Okiku's Well. Image from Flickr user NelC.

Yoshitoshi Ogiku

Yoshitoshi Ogiku. Image from Wikimedia commons.

Catacombs of Paris

Image from Flickr user brothergrimm

The Catacombs of Paris is the underground cemetery that occupy the remains of what used to be Paris’ stone mines. The catacombs contain the remains of around six million people, and have been a popular tourist attraction since the late 19th century. The catacombs are a testament to the practice of mass inhumation. Walls of bones line the tunnels, giving it a completely real, incredibly eerie atmosphere.

Pillar of bones

Pillar of bones. Image via MFS Updates.

The White House

White House

Image from Wikimedia commons

Washington in DC is filled to the brim with classical architecture, which seems to be the perfect setting for any type of ghost story, given the extensive history of the city. It seems only fitting that the most famous house in the country — seems to be also the most haunted. Various ghosts of former first ladies such as Abigail Adams, and even president Lincoln himself — have been reported to be seen in certain areas of the premises.

Have a spooky Halloween everyone!

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