6 Haunted Historical Sites That Will Scare Your Socks Off

History has always held mysteries, but some places hold darker enigmas than others. Check out this list of the 6 spookiest places the globe has to offer.

Mar 7, 2024By Kassandre Dwyer, M.Ed History
haunted historical sites


History is interwoven with generations of stories, some seeming to persist longer in the consciousness of the modern world than others. Some of these events and the people associated with them seem to leave a physical presence in the realm in which they once existed, haunting those who now occupy and visit their former space. Several of the world’s most famous historical sites are dubbed as such due to their wide reputations as spooky environs for paranormal seekers and scholars of history alike to revel in.


1. Egypt’s Valley of the Kings

valley of the kings
The Valley of the Kings isn’t as spooky during the day. Source: Journey to Egypt


Across from the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes (today, it is known as Luxor) lies a desert valley that, over time, has become known as the Valley of the Kings. It is the resting place for many rulers of the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties of Egypt’s pharaohs, part of what historians call the New Kingdom. This was a prosperous time for Egypt, and many of these rulers were celebrated. The area contains over sixty complete tombs and twenty unfinished ones. The valley became the final resting place for rulers such as Ramses III, Seti I, Thutmose, and the ever-famous “King Tut” (Tutankhamun), along with royal associates and priests. Many of the burial sites have been excavated over time, and many are now open for tourism.


haunted sites tut chariot
Some archaeologists suspect King Tut died in a chariot accident, which others believe explains the ghostly chariot apparition. Source: PBS


The area is tormented by paranormal activity, according to many who have visited the area at night. A chariot pulling a pharaoh believed to be King Tut, pulled by horses described as “fiery” by some and black by others, has been seen speeding through the desert at night. Many strange noises plague the area, including screams, footsteps, and screeching. Of course, as movies, books, and oral history have stated over the years, King Tut’s tomb is said to be cursed, going back to the original excavation in which the funder of the project and those involved in the expedition suffered injuries, financial ruin, and even death.


2. China’s Forbidden City

haunted sites forbidden city
The Gate of Divine Prowess, leading to the emperor’s private quarters at the north end of the Forbidden City. Source: Shutterstock via National Geographic


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Located in the center of Beijing, the Forbidden City was once the seat of Chinese power, home to emperors and those they surrounded themselves with. From 1416-1911, its buildings and beautifully landscaped gardens were centers of government and later a secondary capital for China’s royal families. Built by Ming dynasty emperor Zhu Di and home to 24 emperors over 505 years, the grounds saw a great deal of history.


forbidden city night
The Forbidden City at night. Source: Jason Lee via Washington Post


However, over the course of this history, many claim that the palaces and gardens of the Forbidden City were cursed from the beginning. Zhu Di was known to some as the “evil emperor,” killing hundreds of people in his harem and staff to suppress a sex scandal in 1421.


A few years later, a fire swept through the city as a result of lightning strikes, destroying over 250 buildings and killing many. With all of these tragic, untimely deaths, it’s not hard to imagine where the spirits that visitors claim to see come from.


One of the most famous Forbidden City ghost stories tells of a weeping woman dressed completely in white who wanders the city. Ghostly dogs are also seen running at the edge of a labyrinth at the city’s edge. The gates of the city close promptly at 5 PM each evening, so perhaps the true potential of what the night holds within the Forbidden City is yet to be exposed.


3. Pennsylvania’s Gettysburg

haunted sites gettysburg
Visiting Gettysburg offers many opportunities for eerie encounters. Source: Action Tour Guide


Home to the bloodiest battle to date on American soil, the Gettysburg Battlefield was host to a turning point in America’s Civil War. Not only were thousands of lives lost on the fields and hills of this Pennsylvania locale, but dozens of ghost stories were created in the aftermath, leading to Gettysburg’s reputation as one of the most haunted places in America.


Dozens of books have been written on the topic, and tourists can take one of several offered ghost tours of the battlefield and the surrounding locations. Historical homes and businesses are part of the hauntings, including a home where a woman was shot by a stray bullet through her wall and a former orphanage where a horrible headmistress tortured children. Spirits of dead and dying soldiers are spotted on the battlefield as well as in buildings that served as campaign headquarters or field hospitals. The basement of Pennsylvania Hall at Gettysburg College has even been said to have turned into a full, working, but silent Civil War field hospital in front of the eyes of unsuspecting people working in the building.


4. Louisiana’s Myrtles Plantation

haunted sites myrtles
Myrtles Plantation. Source: Visit Baton Rouge


Louisiana is a place filled with many mysteries and hauntings. However, the Myrtles Plantation is perhaps one of the spookiest around. An Antebellum home built when slavery was omnipresent in the American South, stories of the cruelty that took place at the Myrtles are illustrative of the trauma that thousands of enslaved men and women endured.


According to the most famous story associated with the home, one of the early owners had a “house slave” named Chloe. Chloe suffered a great deal of abuse from her master and took to eavesdropping in hopes of “improving” her behavior and preventing future abuse. However, she was caught listening to her master’s conversations, and as punishment, he ordered her ears cut off. She was not, however, released from her duties and was forced by her boss to wear a turban so he wouldn’t have to look at her disfigurement.


Chloe decided to take revenge by placing poisonous oleander leaves in the cake of the master’s daughter on her birthday. She hoped to make the family sick and then nurse them back to health. Healers were among the most respected members of the enslaved community, and Chloe was still desperate to gain her evil master’s favor. However, the dosing was incorrect, and the mistress and the family’s two children died. Chloe was ordered to be hanged by the neck until dead when her misdeed was discovered, with all of the other enslaved people as witnesses; then, her body was weighed with rocks and thrown into the Mississippi River.


This photo, taken by the home’s owner in 1992 for insurance purposes, did not have anyone around when the picture was taken. When developed, the figure of a woman appears, one that many believe to be Chloe. Source: Haunted Walk


Is Chloe behind the ghostly activity that has taken place at the Myrtles since? Or perhaps the poisoned children? Visitors have reported strange figures in photographs, figures and handprints in mirrors that appear at random, furniture moving on its own, and seeing an apparition wearing a green turban.


5. Paris Catacombs

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A wall of the Paris catacombs. Source: City Wonders


Holding the bones of over six million people, moved from cemeteries in the 18th century to free up space, it seems pretty unlikely that the Paris Catacombs wouldn’t be haunted. Located below the streets of Paris, France, the catacombs are one of many in Europe but are perhaps the most famous. About 550,000 people visit the tunnels every year, and as a result, legends about associated hauntings have spread far and wide.


haunted sites catacombs
Interior of the catacombs. Source: Les Catacombes de Paris


One of the most famous chilling stories from the ossuary is relatively recent in origin, dating to the early 1990s. A group of explorers were walking in the catacombs when they found a video camera on the ground. To their amazement, it had footage on it, and it appeared that the man holding the camera was lost and had no idea how to leave the underground maze. As time went on, he seemed to be going mad until the video ended abruptly. No one ever learned who the man was or what became of him. Did he make it out alive, or did he become a victim of the speaking walls?


That’s right, talking walls. Rumor has it that if visitors are in the catacombs after midnight, the walls begin to speak. The disembodied voices of those who rest forever within them will speak to passersby and try to persuade them to venture deeper and deeper into the tunnels until they are lost forever.


6. Tasmania’s Port Arthur

haunted sites port arthur
Visitors on a Port Arthur ghost tour. Source: Port Arthur Historical Site


The island state of Australia, located about 150 miles south of the mainland country with beautiful scenery, Tasmania is a popular destination for visitors. Serving as a cruise ship port and home to many vineyards, it is a bustling locale, particularly in the summer months.


However, the first humans to visit and inhabit Tasmania were not pleasure seekers but convicts. In 1833, Port Arthur began as a penal colony for its mother country at the time, Britain. It held convicts shipped from England until it was abandoned in 1877. However, during its duration, the colony was deemed “inescapable,” with many prisoners dying during their sentences.


It was officially preserved as a historical site in 1979 but has been a tourist destination since its abandonment. Documented ghost stories have been part of the legend of Port Arthur since 1870, and it has become a popular locale for after-dark paranormal tours. Many visitors are especially intrigued by the Isle of the Dead, a nearby small island where deceased inmates were buried in unmarked graves.

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By Kassandre DwyerM.Ed HistoryKassie is a farmer with a passion for history who has a day job teaching middle school social studies in her hometown. In addition to earning NBCT certification and M.Ed. in History, she holds an M.Ed in Curriculum & Instruction and a B.S. in Sustainable Agriculture/Animal Science. She is particularly interested in telling the stories of often overlooked historical perspectives or hidden truths, and is especially intrigued by the history of America’s Indigenous peoples, war, and the “wild west.”