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Around the world, fans of the occult take journeys into the most chilling haunted locations: forests, castles, homes and hospitals with a gruesome history of ghostly apparitions, paranormal activity and strange sightings that make them truly terrifying premises.
Here's the guide to the most chilling haunted locations around the world, as well as the dark legend behind them. Are they just fantasy... or for real? You decide.
Public consciousness has turned certain locations around the world into the target of myths and legends about strange events that escape reason. Ghost stories usually find the perfect home to extend their terrifying affection in certain forests, castles and hospitals.
In some cases, experts have proved that there is indeed a ghostly presence causing certain paranormal activity, although it remains unexplained. Other haunted locations seem to remain within the range of credibility each of us is willing to give.
The darkness and greatness of the forest has always transformed it into one of the classic haunted locations everywhere. Normally, it is linked to the presence of ghosts and strange creatures, as well as with disappearances and something even more horrid: suicide.
Aokigahara Forest, in Japan, has become the world's most famous dark forest since the 60s saw it become the chosen suicide spot for many Japanese people. A movie and a video where a Youtuber encounters a hung corpse have only increased its fame.
In the hard, hungry times of the 19th century, the Japanese used to abandon children and dying elders in this forest at the bottom of Mount Fuji. That's how the legend of its spirits was born, and it's just kept growing.
The final boost was given in 1993 by the book The Complete Manual of Suicide, where Wataru Tsurumi sets Aokigahara as the perfect place to commit suicide. Since then, suicide cases have increased by dozens in that dark place.
Orrius Forest, in the Catalan province of Barcelona, shrouds an aura of mistery the second you step into it. It's one of the world's most curious dark forests, because it's a myriad of skeletal trees, strange figures carved into stone, caves, and labyrinth-like routes.
Some of the stone sculptures are inspired on the moais (the giant statues from Easter Island) and Mayan culture, and the center of the forest is overlooked by a giant elephant figure.
The forest also contains a great stone with crosses engraved into it, which legend says were made by the Catalan bandit Perot Rocaguinarda: a cross for each of his victims. In the caves, many witch covens and satanic rituals were performed.
Sometimes, the magic of the forest is shrouded in mythology and folklore legends, such as is the case for the woods of Valle del Baztán, in the Spanish province of Navarra. Among the thick fog covering this location, it's hard to find the differences between fantasy and reality, between magic and the supernatural world.
For centuries, it has been a location linked to witchcraft and counterfeiting, thus feeding the public consciousness with the presence of magic, supernatural beings. One of them is the renowned Basajún, guardian of the woods: a creature with great might, covered up in hair and with a long mane.
Next to other creatures like the Tarttalo (some sort of Basque reproduction of the one-eyed Cyclops from Greek mythology), a real legendary tradition has come to life, giving the woods a sacred aura.
Dark literature and public consciousness have usually embraced old castles as the hotspots of mystery. Their old walls, hidden corners, far-off location and dim lighting make them the perfect places to experience fear.
One of the classic haunted locations is the famed Dracula's Castle. It's a medieval fortress located in Transylvania (Romania), where it is believed that Emperor Vlad Tepes "The Impaler" lived.
However, in this case, Bram Stoker found inspiration in Bran Castle's architecture. Even so, the real character of Vlad Draculea, whom the author took as the main reference for his Dracula, never lived in this castle, but in another one, currently in ruins.
However, when an icon enters everyone's minds, it's hard to banish certain ghouls. Besides, Dracula's castle, with its mighty towers and a majestic medieval architecture raising up above a meandering cliff in the middle of the thick woods, gives it a certainly mysterious flair.
It is said to be the world's most chilling haunted castle. It is located in England, and the locals give it tragic legends that have provided it its reputation of being deeply haunted.
The most famous wandering soul is the Blue Boy, who shows up every midnight screaming and moaning, and according to the local legend, he might even sit in bed with you. Some time ago, the bones of a man and child were found behind a wall, which has increased this location's popularity.
It is also said that you might see the ghost of Lady Mary Berkeley, a lady in white who desperately begs for water. And there's also the famous story of the sighting of a torturer who submitted dozens of people to his bloody sessions.
In Salamanca (Spain), there's been increasing rumours about strange events in the Castillo del Buen Amor, an old fortress in the town of Topas, and the last remaining trace of the dominion of Villanueva de Cañedo.
Nowadays, it's a hotel, and several of its guests and workers claim to have seen paranormal activity happening. This location is shrouded in mystery.
One of the most memorable stories is that a few receptionists claim to have heard calls from rooms where no one stayed. Some guests also state that they heard screams, thuds and moans that didn't let them sleep.
It is said that a lady in white roams around each room, and that there have been sightings and strange noises in the stables. The most creative minds have even believed to have seen soldiers with their armour still on.
The places which have given a home to suffering are usually prone to have some mystery about them, and that's the case of hospitals and mental asylums. There, we can see some of the most horrifying haunted locations.
Mexican folklore is always so prone to having tragic legends, and it includes a mystery icon in the Morella de Michoacán Hospital. This healthcare centre is still on service, so the so-called ghosts still come around night after night, to the horror of the patients.
At night, many patients claim to experience sightings, and that they also hear screams, crying, yelps and moans. Reality or imagination?
It is told that a ghost shows up several times in the surgery room, someone who supposedly died and whose soul couldn't travel to the Great Beyond. There's also a lady in white who keeps leaving a bloody trace on the floor. It is said to be an old terminally ill patient who committed suicide.
This hospital in the Catalan city of Terrassa has become a focus for paranormal activity over the years. From 1952, it has welcomed victims of tuberculosis and respiratory illnesses, and it was built in a far-off location surrounded by nature and fresh air to be more functional.
But its idyllic location was soon overtaken by its dark legend. There started to be rumours about the foul treatment given to patients, which became increasingly feasible because of the high suicide rate.
It is said that patients were agonising in their rooms, almost driven mad, and they went up to the top floor to jump out into the void. Now left to rot since 1997, visitors claim to have heard cries and moans, an elevator engine going up and down, and the sound of children running...
In Costa Rica, the San Juan de Dios Hospital holds a spirit: the ghost of the nun with a cup. According to the legend, in this currently functioning hospital, a nun refused to give a glass of water to a dying patient many, many years ago. The patient diet, and remorse tortured the nun.
It is said that her ghost still roams around and appears in front of patients to offer them water. Her external looks and old-age uniform makes them terrified, but it is told that you should accept her glass of water, because it has healing powers.
Haunted houses are also classic in the world of horror, because sometimes a home sweet home can become a living nightmare. There's certain homes around the world who have become true shrines for mystery.
When a house becomes a home for tragedy, the legend grows. That's what happened to the house of Aunt Toña, a far-off building which can only be reached by crossing a ruined bridge in the Chapultepec Forest.
According to the legend, that dark location was the home of Aunt Toña. Tired of being alone, she welcomed several poor children who stayed with her in exchange for sustenance. Suddenly, the old woman started murdering the children one by one in cold blood. She threw their bodies out into the river, and finally, eaten up by regret, committed suicide in her bedroom.
Many want to reach it attracted by the story, but not everyone gets there: the road is treacherous and some people even have accidents.
Right by the Loch Ness, in Scotland, rise the doors to hell: Boleskine House. In this home the famous occult expert and wizard Aleister Crowley opened up -legend says- the doors to the Underworld, turning it into a mystical spot to summon spirits and celebrate magic rituals.
After Crowley's departure, the locals started to tell about strange happenings around the premises. Their following owners suffered tragically, and one of its tenants even committed suicide.
One of its most famous owners was Jimmy Page, the guitarist in Led Zeppelin, who was fascinated enough by the house's satanic shroud to buy it, and then claimed to have seen strange events occur. Many still consider it a door open to other worlds.
One of the world's most terrifying homes is in Amityville County, New York. The dark legend hasn't ceased to grow since, in 14 November 1974, the DeFeo family died at the hands of the eldest sibling while they slept. The next year, the Lutz family bought the estate.
That was the starting point of hell for the family, who ended up leaving the house, disturbed and tormented by the paranormal activity occurring all around. The girls levitating, screaming and whispering, red eyes in the dark, figures that broke up and changed places... That home was a true poltergeist case.
The home has been the target of many occult experts, and its fame skyrocketed thanks to several movies and film sagas. There's still a debate going on today about whether the case was real or fake.
These are other haunted locations which have been the target of rumours, myths and chilling legends over the years. Like the previous ones, they still have many visitors and controversy about them.
In the Catalan town of Cardona, there is a centuries-old castle on top of a hill which was the home to the local dukes. Transformed into a tourist inn and hotel, there's several witnesses who claim to have heard noises, seen things moving and experienced apparitions.
The biggest mystery is Room 712. According to a cleaning lady, the workers went up to the seventh floor to clean up the rooms, and when they knocked on the door of Room 712, there was a hoarse voice that said "Hold on", which was impossible because the floor had already been emptied out.
After checking that no one was staying in that room, they managed to get in with a master key, and even though the beds were made, there were footstep tracks on the bathroom floor, and a wet towel.
In the past, this was a fortress for torture, murder and massacre which made room for witnesses claiming to have seen spirits. One of these recalled events revolves around a young girl who, according to the legend, was locked up in a tower until she died.
Montserrat is a sacred mountain in Barcelona which is also shrouded in mystery. It's the source of the mystery light that appeared out of God's work in 1345 according to Catholic believers, and theologists state it is a spot filled with telluric energy.
The sacred, magic and occult realms intertwine in this special place. There's usually some glimpses of powerful lights every now and then, and their hidden caves and caverns welcome some ascetics and even certain cults. It's also a place that many people choose to commit suicide.
But if this mountain is renowned about something, it's because it is a UFO sighting spot. Since 1977, UFO fans have gathered on the 11th day of every month at the "sighting court", waiting for the mystery to become reality.
And as if it weren't enough, Montserrat has been one of the spots where the Holy Grail has historically been located.
The last stop in our horror tour is the Greyfriars Cemetery in Edinburgh, where several horror stories find a home. One of the most chilling revolves around Mackenzie, whose appointment as a financial manager in Scotland in the 12th century was to sentence the members of the religious Covenant Cult.
Mackenzie locked them up in the prison within Greyfriars Cemetery, and shortly after that, killed them off in cold blood. It is said that, many centuries later, a freezing homeless man looking for shelter opened up Mackenzie's grave, thus releasing his spirit.
Since then, it's one of the most haunted locations, because according to the visitors who have been around, there's wandering ghosts and background voices. Hundreds of people claim to have been the victims of bites, burns, and inexplicable attacks in general.