13 Terrifying, Haunted Historical Sites From Around The World

We've all met someone who claims to have had a bizarre, unexplainable experience at some point in their lives. Some have seen spectral apparitions moving around their homes. Some claim to hear strange noises in the middle of the night. Others believe the spirits of their loved ones are silently watching over them, showing them otherworldly signs.

Often, it's hard to believe these claims are anything more than simple pareidolia and the desire to believe.

Then, there are some stories - of some places - which have so many different sources attributed to them, that it seems they must have an air of truth. After all, when a place becomes as notorious as those listed below, it's hard to deny that there must be something strange going on. 

Whether you're a believer in the supernatural or not, these supposedly haunted places are, at the very least, unsettling. Some are the sites of grisly demises. Others are where countless poor souls were once imprisoned and tortured, now doomed to roam the halls of their institutions.

In any case, dim the lights, say your prayers, and read on to learn about the most haunted historical sites in the world.


  • The Island Of The Dolls

    The Island Of The Dolls
    Photo: Esparta Palma / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    If there's one common fear right up there with clowns, flying, spiders, and maybe spontaneous human combustion, it's dolls. With their soulless eyes, marionette-like gait, and constant desire to be given free will to murder us in our sleep, any location that features a doll certainly deserves a spot on this list.  

    But instead of one doll, let's ratchet things up... how about thousands of them? Oh, and they're not simply lying around a house, or stuffed into an attic, or calmly plotting your demise from the corner of a room either - they're strung up on various trees on an entire island.

    Well, that's what you're in for if you ever feel like escaping the relaxing, doll-less safety of life and moving to Xochimilco, Mexico, where you'll be met by the gazes of countless plastic baby-people.

    Thankfully, these are not naturally occurring dolls, but the real reason they exist on this island is perhaps even more frightening. Legend has it that a man named Julian Santana Barrera moved to the island and, soon after, found the body of a girl floating in a nearby canal. He also found a doll floating near her, which he hung from a tree as a memorial. But once he hung the doll, he claimed to hear footsteps, whispers, and screams. He hung more dolls to try and appease her but had no luck; she haunted him until the day he died in those woods.

    Unsurprisingly, Julian had zero luck with contacting the spirit of the young girl. Now, the island is a tourist attraction, and visitors claim the dolls' eyes will follow them wherever they go. 

  • Waverly Hills Sanatorium

    Waverly Hills Sanatorium
    Photo: Kris Arnold / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Located in southern Jefferson County in Kentucky, the Waverly Hills Sanatorium was originally a simple two-story hospital when it was constructed for tuberculosis patients.

    However, since Kentucky had one of the highest death rates for the disease in the entire country, the county decided to expand the building and transform Waverly Hills into a five-story haven for those stricken with what was called the "white death" at the time. 

    It's been said that as many as 64,000 patients passed at Waverly Hills before it closed - and not all of them have found a way to move on. Supposedly, visitors occasionally hear strange voices muttering down the hallways and feel strange cold spots in the air. Some even claim to have seen apparitions and shadows in multiple parts of the building. 

    Perhaps the most frightening thing is the supposed ghost of a pregnant woman who passed in room 502.

  • When most of us think of haunted houses, it's typical to think of creepy Victorian-era homes, or at least ones built within the last few centuries. 

    But the thing about ghosts is that they're supposedly doomed to wander the Earth forever, and in this case, some of them have been around for thousands of years.

    This brings us to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. Here, the Mayan people believe that death wasn't so much a tragedy but more of a process to bring us to the other side when our time on Earth was up. Thus, the ruins here were once the site of mass sacrifices.

    In fact, several tourists who have ventured into the more contained parts of the ruins have claimed to have seen strange specters walking the halls, in addition to hearing strange tribal chants throughout various sections. 

  • Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

    Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
    Photo: Tim Kiser / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

    Originally built in 1850s, this asylum in Weston, WV, was later called the Weston State Hospital and was designed to hold a mere 250 patients. But as time went on and the hospital began admitting additional alcoholics, addicts, and "mental defectives," the structure's capacity ballooned to nearly 2,600 patients. 

    Because of this immense level of overcrowding, resources of the hospital were stretched extremely thin. This resulted in poor sanitation, failing light fixtures, and poor heat circulation throughout the building. Basically, everyone inside was suffering in more ways than one.

    And although those who resided and worked in Trans-Allegheny experienced physical horrors, it was said they also reported seeing the spirits passing through the hallways - as the site was originally a Civil War outpost.