Over the years, dark tourism has gained attention as more people are interested in gruesome history around the world. Dark tourism involves travelling to places associated with tragedies, death and suffering. Just in time for Halloween, we’ve rounded up five dark tourism sites that you can consider as your next travel destination if you’re up for some chills.
1. Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Poland
Among all Nazi concentration camps during World War II, Auschwitz was the largest and deadliest. An estimated 1.3 million people were sent to this concentration camp, and as many as 1.1 million of them were killed, with 90% being Jews. At least 800 prisoners attempted to escape but only 144 were successful. Instead of just a symbolic byword for Holocaust, Auschwitz also is commonly used in reference to any atrocities against humanities. It’s clear why this place is called the epitome of dark tourism.
2. Anne Frank House, Netherlands
Not all dark tourism sites need to be right out eerie. The Anne Frank House is a house-turned-museum dedicated to Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank, where she used to live and hide from Nazi persecution with her family. The museum preserves the hiding place of the family. Visitors can experience climbing up the narrow staircase and observing the secret room. Traces and personal items of the house’s residents are exhibited, including Anne Frank’s original diary entries. Anne Frank House is the 3rd most visited museum in the Netherlands.
3. Hashima Island, Japan
About 9 miles away from Nagasaki city sits the symbol of Japan’s dark past. Once a capital for undersea coal mining, Hashima Island, also known as Gunkanjima (Battleship Island), is now an abandoned island void of inhabitants. But Hashima Island isn’t simply a mining island. During World War II, Korean civilians and Chinese war prisoners were exploited as forced labourers by the Japanese wartime mobilization policies and made to work under harsh conditions. As a result, over 1000 workers died on the island. In 2015, the island was named a UNESCO World Heritage site, and people can visit the island on group tours.
4. Banff Springs Hotel, Canada
The notorious Banff Springs Hotel is home to dark and debatable tales. Over time, many ghostly experiences have been reported by the hotel staff and guests. It is believed that the hotel is haunted by several ghosts, including a young bride who died on her wedding day after she tripped at the staircase and broke her neck, and a family who were murdered in room 837. The hotel, now known as Fairmont Banff Hotel, is still in business!
5. Pompeii, Italy
One of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations, the ancient city of Pompeii is located near modern Naples. In 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying the city, along with Herculaneum and other communities, under a thick carpet of volcanic ash and pumice about 13 to 20 ft tall. The tragedy killed approximately 2000 people. In 1748, a group of explorers rediscovered the site and surprised to find that underneath the thick layer of dust and debris, Pompeii was still mostly intact. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has been a tourist destination for 250 years and attracts about 2.5 million visitors every year.