Europe attracts not only by its spectacular views, culture, gastronomy and ancient civilization, but also by its places with sinister or mysterious stories, fully appreciated by fans in search of the supernatural or stories out of the ordinary. On the old continent there are places whose history is full of blood and legends to match, from the exposure of thousands of mummies or human skeletons to ghostly apparitions in forests or castles, such as the one in the forest in the Cluj area or in the haunted castles in Edinburgh or Austria.
If you want to explore the dark side of Europe and have unique experiences, below you will find some suggestions. They are not recommended for those with "faint of heart".
Catacombs of Paris, France
Beneath the streets of Paris is a labyrinth of limestone quarries that have played a role in the city's history. Most are located in the southern part of the city, which was the site chosen for the Catacombs of Paris. The need for an underground ossuary arose at the end of the 18th century from a rather strange problem: the cemeteries in the center of Paris were so full that the smell of rotting bodies had become unbearable for the inhabitants.
Burials were banned in the city center to help reduce the unpleasant smell. The ban helped to improve the situation in the short term, as heavy rains in the spring of 1780 brought more problems, as the oversaturated ground caused the cellar next to Les Innocents - the largest cemetery in Paris at the time - to collapse. As a result, many corpses were affected and the disease broke out throughout the city. At the same time, the centuries-old quarries located in the south of Paris also began to collapse. Finally, to solve both problems, the church gave in and agreed to transport the remains from the central cemeteries to the abandoned quarries.
The macabre process of transporting the bones of 6 million deceased Parisians was done with respect for the remains of the deceased, with priests accompanying them during the transport. The process took place mainly at night, so that the residents would not be disturbed. Most of the bones were already centuries old when they were moved.
Italy Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, Italy
The Catacombs of the Capuchins are one of the most macabre tourist attractions in Palermo. Here you can see over 8,000 skeletons and mummified remains. The bodies are exhibited in several galleries according to sex, age and profession. One of the most visited is the Santa Rosalia chapel, which houses the body of Rosalia Lombardo, aged 2, who died in 1920. The remains are in a glass coffin, being perfectly preserved.
The history of the place shows that in 1600 the cemetery cared for by the Capuchin monks was full. Instead of increasing this space, when the monk Silvestro da Gubbio died, the Capuchins decided to dig crypts under the cemetery and mummify him, to continue to stay and pray with him. Silvestro da Gubbio is, moreover, the one who greets you at the entrance to the catacombs these days.
For several centuries this practice was reserved only for the Capuchin friars, so that later they decided to expand and offer this type of burial to the wealthy residents of the area, who could afford it.
Methods of preserving the bodies were perfected over time, such as combining the natural atmosphere of the catacombs with a series of drying factors and a ceramic drainage system, the bodies being then immersed in a vinegar solution and filled with hay. Relatives offered clothes to dress their loved ones and often came to visit. Only the richest families in Palermo could afford this, due to the very high maintenance costs.
The labyrinth of rooms in the catacombs is comprised of separate sections. The priests are dressed in clerical vestments, and the military and civil servants still wear their uniforms. There are rooms dedicated to women, men, children and babies. Some remains are embalmed and displayed in glass coffins, while others are hung on the walls in a vertical position. Many of them are protected by wire cages because people took the bones as souvenirs.
Hill of Crosses, Lithuania
Over 100,000 crosses have been erected on this tiny hill, many of which date back to the mid-19th century.
The exact origins of the Hill of Crosses remain a mystery. The hanging rosaries sound in the wind, providing an undulating soundtrack for the icons of the saints and the photographs of the deceased.
The first written mention of this place dates back to 1850, but some believe that these crosses appeared much earlier. Many of them were left by relatives of the victims of the uprisings against the Russian regime in 1831, and later in 1863. The Tsar then suppressed the national identity of Lithuanians by limiting religious expression, so that families were forbidden to honor the dead with proper burials in cemeteries. On the other hand, many believe that these crosses began to appear at the end of the 19th century, after an apparition of the Virgin Mary - holding the baby Jesus - asked the faithful to cover the holy place with these symbols.
Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic
The Sedlec Ossuary is an underground Roman Catholic chapel in the Czech Republic. This creepy place is also called the Chapel of Bones, because here are the skeletons of about 70,000 people, arranged as decoration and macabre furniture. The central part of the chapel has a massive chandelier that is made with almost every bone in the human body. There are also skull chandeliers and glass-door cabinets displaying hundreds of human bones.
According to the legend, one of the local abbots was sent by the Czech king to Jerusalem, around the year 1278. The abbot brought a handful of soil from Golgotha, which he spread over the Sedlec cemetery. The soil of the Holy Land was used for sanctification and healing. The cemetery was considerably expanded during the great epidemics of the 14th century, where around 30,000 corpses were buried.
In the spring of 1421, the Hussite troops also attacked Sedlec. The cathedral and the monastery here were looted and burned to the ground, and the cemetery was devastated.
At the end of the 15th century, the surface of the cemetery was reduced, and the bones from the abandoned graves were moved to the Ossuar. The legend says that a half-blind monk who arranged the bones and skulls in pyramids in the ossuary most likely dates from this period, and it is said that, after this work, the monk regained his sight.
The Sedlec Monastery was abolished by Joseph II in 1783. The property of the monastery was bought by the Schwarzenberg family from Orlík. Thanks to their patronage, the Sedlec Ossuary was preserved. The baroque bone decoration was renewed and expanded in 1870. The bones used were disinfected, bleached with chlorinated lime and placed in original designs, such as the chandelier in the middle of the chapel or the coat of arms of the Schwarzenberg family.
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Edinburgh Castle is the most visited attraction in Great Britain, outside of London. There are many great stories, accounts of unusual facts, fictions, misconceptions, myths and urban legends associated with Edinburgh Castle. Here are some of them:
Edinburgh Castle is built on a volcano
The castle is built on the massive Castle Rock, part of an extinct ancient volcano, which was formed 350 million years ago.
Here witches were burned at the stake
More witches were burned at the stake in Edinburgh Castle than anywhere else in the country in the 16th century. Thus, more than 300 women were tortured, then burned. Visitors today can see a memorial to the witches at the top of the Royal Mile, from the castle esplanade.
The castle sheltered many prisoners of war
Edinburgh Castle was used as a prison in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Prisoners from the Seven Years' War, the American War of Independence and the Napoleonic War were held here in dungeons over the years. At the same time, the castle was also used as a prison during the First World War.
The KGB requested that a hole in the wall be covered
The Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle has a small window above the fireplace, known as the "laird's lugs" because it allowed the residents to listen in on the conversations taking place in the room below. At the beginning of the 16th century, King James IV spied through this small hole the meetings that took place in the hall below, and when Gorbachev planned his visit to the castle for a conference, in 1984, Soviet security insisted that the hole be covered.
People have reported many ghosts seen here over time, including a headless drummer boy (seen in 1960). One of the most infamous castle ghost stories is that of the lone piper. As the story goes, when the tunnels under the Royal Mile were first discovered, a few hundred years ago, a bagpipe boy was sent to investigate, playing the bagpipes on the road so that the people above could follow him. When the music suddenly stopped, a search party was sent to retrieve the boy, but he was never found again. People say that his ghostly bagpipes can still be heard in the castle as he walks forever through the dark tunnels below.
Students are cursed to fail their exams if they enter the castle
Legend has it that any Edinburgh University student who passes through the castle gates will fail their final exams. Although everything might sound a little exaggerated, many students avoid visiting the castle during their time at university.
The many other accounts of frightening events that take place in the castle include visions, things that pull at your clothes or sudden drops in temperature. Edinburgh Castle is open to the public and offers free guided tours for those who want to experience the paranormal.
Hoia Baciu Forest, Romania
The Hoia-Baciu Forest is among the most famous places in the world where paranormal phenomena are said to be recorded. Be that as it may, this forest is a picturesque place, with trees famous for their unusual shapes, which offer a full experience.
Located on one of the hills surrounding Cluj, the forest became famous starting in the 60s, when all kinds of undead events began to be reported, as well as other inexplicable apparitions in photographs and imperceptible with the naked eye, UFOs appearing, strange auditory sensations, states of anxiety or the feeling of being followed. The most frequent anomalies that have been reported over time are problems with electronic equipment (batteries that discharge unusually quickly, restarting phones, problems with GPS, problems configuring sound frequencies for audio-video recordings, etc.).
Those who want to discover it can do so through guided tours, at night or during the day.
Moosham Castle, Austria
Moosham Castle in Austria was where thousands of people were tried and sentenced to death during the witch trials of the 17th century.
Here, supporters of paranormal events saw a man sitting in the dining room. The locals call him Anton, the caretaker of the castle during the witch trials, in which the victims were tortured and killed by hanging.
Moosham Castle also has a history with werewolves. It is said that in the 1800s, many deer and cattle were found dead around it. The people suspected of being werewolves were brought to the castle, tortured and killed.
Many of those who visited the castle over time, and even the staff here, said that they felt a dark presence around them, that they were touched by something unseen or that they heard loud sounds, doors closing, footsteps and saw various shadows.