A Halloween Spook-tacular

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Are you ready for streets lined with zombies and bars crammed full of ghosts, vampires, and more than a few Joaquin Phoenix impersonators? Yep, Halloween is here! Whether you’re off to party the night away and stagger to work on Friday with eyeliner that just won’t come off, or you’re having a quiet night in that will inevitably be disrupted by adorable trick-or-treaters, we know you love the spookiest night of the year really – if only because it holds back the onslaught of Christmas festivities. Keep your mince pies to yourself, M&S! We’re not looking! Anyway, we reckon Halloween doesn’t get nearly as much build up as it deserves, so we’ve compiled a list of all the spookiest places we could find, to get you in the mood. You’re welcome.

The Stanley Hotel – Colorado, USA


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Where do you think is the creepiest place you could be a guest? There’s the classic Bran Castle in Transylvania, where you might imagine a vampire skulking through the corridors, but creepier still is the real life hotel from Stephen King’s horror classic The Shining. The Stanley Hotel in Colorado, America, was deliberately built in the isolated and eerie landscape of the Rocky Mountains in order to try to improve the owner’s tuberculosis. In case that alone wasn’t creepy enough, it’s apparently one of America’s most haunted places: visitors cite visions of Mr Stanley himself, as well as young girls in the corridors and the faint strains of a piano, amongst many others. Perhaps the spirits here are more playful than The Shining makes out, though we probably wouldn’t risk it…

Alcatraz – San Francisco, USA


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Talking of places that are hard to leave, what could be spookier than an abandoned prison? Specifically, one of the most infamous prisons in the world: Alcatraz. Hop on a ferry from San Francisco and strap on your headphones for the audio tour. Reckon a place can’t be creepy when there are people around? Think again: the audio tour recounts treacherous tales  as you pass sites of rebellion, death, and escape attempts – all in the voices of previous guards and prisoners. If that doesn’t raise your hackles, we don’t know what will! Make sure you visit the eerie D Block, where prisoners were put in solitary confinement for weeks, months, or even years. Many of them ended up committing suicide or attempting impossible escapes that ended in their gory deaths. No wonder this place is supposed to be haunted…

Veijo Rönkkönen Sculpture Garden – Parikkala, Finland


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This next one isn’t exactly haunted, but we’d argue it’s decidedly creepy nonetheless. Famous Finnish artist Veijo Rönkkönen – who was something of a recluse – created around 550 concrete statues in his lifetime, all of which are in his own garden in Parikkala, Finland. The surreal figures are depicted in a range of ways: some are doing yoga, there’s a nun hanging about behind a bush and a man in traditional Finnish dress, to name but a few. Statues can be creepy all on their own (the weeping angels from Dr Who, anybody?), but there’s something particularly unnerving about a few of these sculptures – they’re fitted with human teeth. Despite their clear inanimateness, the teeth and the fact that the statues are posed mid-movement does give the distinct impression that they’re truly alive, perhaps caught under a spell, or perhaps just waiting for your back to be turned.

The Mouth of Truth – Rome, Italy


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Did you know that lie detectors are only accurate about 50% of the time? That is to say, about as accurate as guessing yes or no every time. If you fancy a creepy alternative that might (you never know) be correct more often, head to the site of the Mouth of Truth, in Rome. Make a day of it and visit St Valentine’s skull while you’re there. Romantic! The humanoid face of the Mouth is supposed to represent a pagan god, and be warned: apparently if you tell a lie while your arm is in the mouth, you’ll find it bitten off! Sounds pretty gruesome to us, and we’re not sure we’d chance it – after all, nobody likes to be unmasked… xoxo, dealchecker.

Isla de las Muñecas – Mexico City, Mexico


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While we’re on the topic of lighthearted activities, how about visiting Isla de las Muñecas – an island filled with dolls in Mexico? That doesn’t sound too bad. Except that the dolls were collected to appease the spirit of a little girl who drowned. And that they’re suspended from trees, rotting. And that, being in Mexico, there are a whole lot of spiders hanging out between them. Add to this the fact that Don Julian, who started this collection, was found drowned in 2001 in the exact spot he believed the girl had died so many years before, and you have a seriously creepy place to visit. If you do dare to go though, make sure to bring a doll to leave behind!

Capuchin Crypt – Rome, Italy


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At least you’ll get a chance to leave these spooky destinations – others aren’t so lucky. Venture down into the catacombs of Paris and you’ll be surrounded by the bones of the deceased, but more unnerving still is the Capuchin Crypt of Rome. Italy sure has its fair share of spooky spots! The bones of Capuchin friars and poor Romans decorate the walls – and we really do mean decorate. They’re arranged in macabre patterns throughout the crypt – and a terrifying memento mori in one of the chapels informs you that “what you are now, we once were; what we are now, you shall be”. What’s more terrifying than a reminder of your own fragile mortality?


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