Dark tourism, also known as black or grief tourism, is visiting places that are known for heinous acts, death, tragedies, or any other macabre subjects. Humans have always had a morbid fascination with death and tragedy and tourism associated with these things. It has also come under fire in the last few years because of people being insensitive to the sites and the people who experienced the tragedy or lost there lives there. Since fall is the time for all things spooky, what better time to visit some of these eerie sites? Just remember to respect the place and its victims. Here are a few that might just make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.
1. Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is known as one of the most haunted cities in the United States, and it is no wonder. The city is built on top of several cemeteries, and there are a few more you can tour, one dating back to the colonial period. Many of the houses there have also been the sites of tragedy including murder and one that belonged to a man who posed as a surgeon and even performed several surgeries before he was caught. Many companies host both driving and walking ghost tours. There's even one where tourists ride around in a hearse.
The Chernobyl disaster happened in Ukraine in 1986, when one of the nuclear reactors exploded and released at least 5 percent of the reactor core into the air. Many people lost their lives because of the radiation and many more had to leave their homes and relocate. People were not allowed into the area because of the high amounts of radiation, but in 2011, some areas where the radiation was low enough to not cause any harmful effects were opened to tourism. You can now go on tours and visit the ghost towns and see how nature has taken back the area around the plant since the disaster.
3. Dearly Departed Tours and Museum
Unfortunately, Hollywood has been the site of many suicides, accidents, and murders of celebrities who called the Los Angeles neighborhood home. The Dearly Departed Tours and Museum pays tribute to these tragic lives and deaths. They have tours that include sites such as the restaurant where Sharon Tate, who was murdered by the Manson Family, ate her last meal and the home of Rebecca Schaeffer who was murdered by a fan who was stalking her. Their museum houses artifacts including memorabilia belonging to Marilyn Monroe and an original painting and letter from John Wayne Gacy.
4. Tower of London
Built as a fortress by William the Conqueror, the Tower of London has been the site of many tragic deaths and the most infamous prison in England. In 1483, Edward IV's two young sons disappeared in the Tower and were never found. Two bodies were discovered in 1674 and were re-examined in 1933 and found to be the bodies of two boys the exact same ages of the King's sons. The prison at the Tower was notorious for torturing its prisoners and for its executions. It housed famous prisoners such as Sir Walter Raleigh and Elizabeth I. It is said that the grounds are haunted by several ghosts including Anne Boleyn who was executed on the Tower Green. Today, you can take tours of the fortress, including one after dark.
Perhaps the most infamous volcano eruption in history, Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79 and covered the town of Pompeii in ash. Over 2,000 people were killed and the city was abandoned. When it was excavated, archaeologists found that the city was mostly intact, and the people and animals, such as horses and dogs, were encased in the hardened ash in the poses of their last few moments alive. It is now one of the most popular tourist sites in Italy.
6. Kennedy Assassination Tours
On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas. It is one of the most disputed events in American history, surrounded by conspiracy theories, and people now flock to Dallas to see where the murder took place and to try to figure out what really happened that day. There are several tours that take you to the exact spot Kennedy was shot, the grassy knoll where it is thought there may have been a second assassin, the Texas Book Depository where Oswald fired from the sixth floor, the boarding house Oswald stayed at, and the movie theater where he was arrested.
7. Museum of Death
The Museum of Death is located in Los Angeles with a second site in New Orleans. This place is home to all things macabre. They have crime scene photos, the largest collection of serial killer artwork, Manson family artifacts, and pet taxidermy. All of the artifacts are originals, no replicas. It can be so disturbing that people have been known to faint while visiting.
8. Auschwitz Concentration Camp
During World War II, the Nazis murdered 6 million Jews in what became known as the Holocaust. They shipped these poor people to death camps like Auschwitz where they were killed in gas chambers, shot, experimented on, and used for slave labor. Those who survived all of this often died of disease because of the horrible conditions. Today, Auschwitz is a memorial to the countless Jews who suffered and died there. You can tour the concentration camp and the other one nearby known as Birkenau which was the largest.
9. The Catacombs of Paris
The Catacombs were once quarries known as Tombe-Issoire under the plain of Montrouge in Paris. During the 1700s, Paris began to experience public health problems that were tied to the cemeteries in the city. They decided to move the bodies underground and chose the quarries to house them. On April 7, 1786, they were designated the Paris Municipal Ossuary but are more commonly known as the Catacombs. The underground tombs have become a popular destination in Paris. Both guided and self-guided audio tours are offered.
The most infamous prison in American history sits on an island in San Francisco Bay, California. It was used from 1934-1964. It held many of the most hardened criminals of the time including Al Capone and George "Machine Gun" Kelly. No one ever successfully escaped the prison, and most were caught. Three inmates, however, escaped by making dummy heads that they put in their beds and crawled through the ventilation system. It is thought that they drowned in the bay, but some believe that they survived and lived out the rest of their lives as free men. Alcatraz is now run by the National Park Service as a National Historic Landmark. They offer tours of the island including a night tour.