Though they may lack the potential fear and jump-scare factor of the world's scariest ghost tours, the creepiest places on the planet instill a different kind of chill that said terrifying destinations don't quite deliver. Unsettling, dark, and rooted deep in history and local culture, the ominous spots in this list not for the faint-hearted have been preserved for many years, and will likely remain so for generations to come for people to be both fascinated and creeped out by.
Now, these eerie pockets around the globe aren't the typical ghostly tale, haunted house of harrowing stories, or meticulous murder mystery - no, these are real places in which the dead, the uncanny, the superstitious, and the paranormal appear to be part of daily life. Whether one is brave enough to visit or not, they're sure to evoke nightmares and keep some readers up and awake all night with the lights on - after all, who needs sleep?
10 Mansfield Reformatory, Ohio
This former prison in Mansfield, Ohio, is a creep show, and the fact that many scenes in The Shawshank Redemption were filmed here says it all. It's said to be haunted by previous inmates who passed on during their sentences, roaming the halls unable to escape prison even in the afterlife. The establishment closed in 1990, but that doesn't stop guided and self-guided tours throughout the year for those who're brave enough to enter.
9 "The Village Of The Scarecrows," Nagoro, Japan
Japan has plenty of scary locations, but this bizarre village in the Iya Valley beats many of them in terms of chill factor. This small village has only 30 residents - who all live alongside 400 huge scarecrow-like dolls. A local resident named Tsukimi Ayano is their creator, who makes them as a memorial to the dearly departed to which they bear an uncanny resemblance.
These dolls, donned in their dead human counterparts' clothing, are dotted around the village, staring silently at passers-by who go about their daily business. They can be spotted all over frozen in action doing all kinds of activities, such as fishing on the riverbank, waiting for the bus, taking a walk, or sitting at a desk in the local school.
8 Akodessewa Fetish Market, Togo
The capital city of Lomé in Togo is home to Akodessewa - the world’s biggest voodoo market not for the easily freaked out. It is run by the Beninese people of Benin, which is thought to be the origin of the voodoo religion - not Haiti or New Orleans like many assume. The macabre stalls and shops in this fearsome place feature plenty of unnerving paraphernalia, such as animal heads and even human skulls.
7 Toraja, South Sulawesi, Indonesia
The very unusual village of Toraja in the Sulawesi mountains sees an extremely unconventional spiritual ritual take place. Families' deceased relatives often keep their mummified remains in their homes for years, and even invite them to join lunch every day before their eventual burial. But their burial is not the end of this tradition, for the bodies of the dead are regularly exhumed to be cleaned, dressed, and cared for. The villagers treat their passed-on relatives as if they are sick, not dead, and as such, they are routinely taken care of and remain a part of the lives of the living.
This obscure yet fascinating ritual is called "Ma'nene," or "The Ceremony of Cleaning Corpses," and once cleaned and readied, the bodies are taken to the place where they died, followed by being brought back home to the village. The ancient Torajan belief system states that a person's spirit must return to their village of origin, so when a villager dies, the family ventures to the place of death to accompany their deceased loved one back home by walking them back to the village. Some Torajans fear journeying too far from the village should they die whilst away, rendering them unable to return home.
6 Sedlec Ossuary, Kutná Hora, Czech Republic
This monastery nicknamed "The Church of Bones" was once a prolific burial site and now contains around 50,000 human skeletons. It is considered a holy land, housing incredible displays of human bones all intricately woven into candelabras, chandeliers, candleholders, ceiling features, and other artistic structures and pieces hosted within the establishment. The story behind these beautiful yet somber skeletal decorations dates back to 1870 when an artist was assigned the task of taking bones from the crypts and turning them into magnificent art pieces.
5 La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina
This Buenos Aires Neo-Gothic cemetery is famed for being very, very haunted. Here, visitors can experience the beautiful, yet ghoulish 6,400 statues, gravestones, mausoleums, and coffins all displayed around this haunting location. But these aren't the only frightening features that make this place so disturbing.
Staff and visitors often claim to hear the hair-raising sounds of jingling keys - said to be a sign that the ghost of the late gravedigger David Alleno is near. After decades of working at the cryptic cemetery, Mr. Alleno allegedly took his life on the same day that the commissioned statue of himself was finally completed...
4 Island Of The Dolls, Mexico
A trip to an island off the coast of Mexico sounds idyllic - especially for loved up honeymooners (even those looking for a creepy place to enjoy their post-wedding vacation). But those that journey to the almost-deserted Isla de las Muñecas south of Mexico City will be both baffled and perturbed by the hundreds of dolls hanging in the trees.
The dolls are reportedly possessed by the spirit of a girl who drowned near the island, and legend has it, the island's former caretaker - who found the girl's body - began hanging them up after he was haunted by her ghost. Terrifyingly, locals and tourists alike often report being followed by the moving eyes of the dolls...
3 Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, West Virginia, USA
The mid-1800s saw the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum serve as the home of many mentally ill people, and as one might expect from such ghastly premises, it is claimed to be haunted by the ghosts of past patients. Today, the hospital is open for tours from March to November, and was even awarded National Historic Landmark status in 1990. The run-down, timeworn walls of the wards echo the memories and stories of tortured minds, which guests can get a fearful sense of when wandering the place and listening out for the wailing howls of restless spirits.
2 Veijo Rönkkönen Sculpture Garden, Parikkala, Finland
The Veijo Rönkkönen Sculpture Garden is named after the reclusive artist responsible for its 550 concrete artistic installments all uncannily resembling humanoid figures positioned in bizarre poses. Unlike any other sculpture park on the planet, brave guests who visit can walk through a real shiver-inducing uncanny valley, and many allege feeling as if they're being watched and followed by the creepy figures - some of which even have human teeth.
The sculpture artist who made these marvellously macabre human-like creatures died in 2010, but his creations continue to live on and instill chills in the spines of the thousands of curious visitors who take the time to stroll through the park every year.
1 The Hill of Crosses, Lithuania
This northern Lithuanian town would look right at home in any of the world's most chilling ghost towns. Of course, crosses aren't really a big deal, but hundreds of them atop a hill are enough to raise hairs. Strangely, these vast numbers of scary crosses began to appear on a hill in this town after the 1831 uprising, which saw it being branded " The Hill of Crosses."
The frightening mound has crosses, crucifixes, carvings, rosaries, and more all on show, and it's thought that there are over 100,000 of them packed on top of this one chilling hill. The government did order their removal during the Soviet Union occupation between 1944 and 1990, however, despite, they never did get round to finishing the job, leaving seemingly what looks like infinite numbers of crosses behind - which are still intact today to creep out locals and visitors.