Every year, we get into the Halloween mood by sharing some of the best spooky spots for seniors to visit. In the past, these must-sees have been more than just notoriously haunted locations. We also covered places that really get into Halloween, like Sleepy Hollow, NY, or areas known for supposed monster sightings! The one constant thread in our posts has always been creepy places in the United States. For the 2020 addition to the series, we thought, why not branch out a bit further and explore creepy places around the globe?
We realize travel isn’t suggested right now — during the current COVID health pandemic — and by no means do we encourage you to go out. But who doesn’t love famous ghost stories? When travel is safe again, these are all places you can visit, but for now, sit back, dim the lights, and get ready for a fright!
Château de Brissac
Nestled in the picturesque Loire Valley region of France is the quaint town of Brissac-Quincé, watched over by the majestic Château de Brissac. Owned by the Duke of Brissac and managed by his son, the Marquis of Brissac, the Château de Brissac is the tallest château in a region of France known for its châteaus and exudes French opulence. You can stay the night, as the château operates as a bed and breakfast, but be prepared to have an unexpected visitor in the night. The grounds are reportedly haunted by la Dame Verte (the Green Lady), said to be the spirit of Charlotte de Brézé (an illegitimate daughter of King Charles VII). In 1477, she was murdered by her husband, Jacques de Brézé, who suspected her of having an affair with the château’s huntsman. She didn’t go quietly, however. Jacques fled the chateau shortly after the murder, complaining of incessant disembodied wailing throughout the grounds.
To this day, loud groans continue to be heard throughout the castle in the early hours of the morning.
Even with her murderer gone, Charlotte was not at peace. To this day, loud groans continue to be heard throughout the castle in the early hours of the morning. While the staff has reportedly grown used to the noises, the sounds of an unhappy spirit unable to find rest may unnerve guests. That’s not all, either. Charlotte isn’t just heard. She’s often been seen, too. She’s called La Dame Verte for a reason, after all. There are numerous sightings of Charlotte climbing the stairs, where the chateau’s chapel used to be, in a green gown. Those brave enough to get close have reported a terrifying, corpselike visage. Even when she isn’t seen, her presence is clear.
Hampton Court Palace
Our next entry on this list is across the English Channel to what can only be described as the Tudor Versailles. Hampton Court Palace is a short train ride out of London, and has a long history tied to the English royals. During the day, you can take a tour the palace, seeing centuries of history, or you can wander the 60 acres of gardens. The nearly 500 years of history has seen the castle act as the favorite home of Henry VIII and other royals, two major reconstructions, and its fair share of darkness. Henry VIII brought every ill-fated wife to these grounds, with Jane Seymour even dying in childbirth in the castle. It was also here that his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, was arrested before her execution.
In 2003, CCTV cameras caught a strange figure closing a pair of heavy fire doors in the middle of the night.
It’s no surprise that such an old and important castle is known to have ghosts — enough that the castle’s website even created a page acknowledging the stories. The most famous of these is the one in the Haunted Gallery, where Catherine Howard ran screaming for mercy as she was arrested. There are reports to this day of screams and spectral figures, both in the day and at night. Jane Seymour also makes appearances, most notably by the Silver Stick Stairs near where she died. In 2003, CCTV cameras caught a strange figure closing a pair of heavy fire doors in the middle of the night, after three nights of alarms mysteriously being set off. The cloaked figure was humorously named Skeletor, though security remain baffled to this day since nobody other than them were on the grounds at the time. This wasn’t the last time the spirits of Hampton Court Palace created a stir in the media, either. If you’re lucky, you may be able to take one of the rare after-hours ghost tours or even stay the night.
From a stately châteaus and castles to a battle-hardened fortress known as Ireland’s most-haunted castle, we next travel to Leap Castle. Built upon the spot of an Iron Age settlement, the fortified tower was first established in the 1500s, though some argue it was first made in the 1200s. Before that, the grounds of Leap Castle were reputed to be used by the druids and to have seen much bloodshed over the years. Today, it’s owned by the Ryan family, who have personally taken to restoring the castle. But, you’re not here to read about that. You’re here to read about a castle so haunted that half its website is devoted to the paranormal. You’re here to read about the Bloody Chapel, its oubliette, and the Elemental.
Even Sean Ryan, the owner, speaks of the Elemental in a hushed voice, as though it’s listening even now.
An oubliette (from the French “oublier” to forget) is a tiny room hidden under a trap door where prisoners would be sent to be forgotten. Often, an oubliette would be wide enough to fit a person inside, but too thin to lie down, sit, or even crouch. In the Bloody Chapel, renovations uncovered what’s become one of the most famous oubliettes, with evidence showing it was used quite often. The Bloody Chapel that houses the oubliette also has spirits, like that of a priest who was murdered by his brother while giving Mass. Most famous of the spirits of Leap Castle is the Elemental. Local legend shrouds this thing that many tie to the pagan roots of the area. Stories of the Elemental go back hundreds of years with reports of a horrifying creature accompanied by the smell of rot and decay. Even Sean Ryan, the owner, speaks of the Elemental in a hushed voice, as though it’s listening even now. Think that’s creepy? There’s more wherever that comes from!
Moving out of Europe, we’re going to a forest that many who enter never leave. In Japan, there is an ancient forest known as Aokigahara Forest. Situated at the base of Mount Fuji, the forest appeared in international news in 2018 when a prominent YouTuber visited and made the distasteful decision to show a suicide victim in his video. This is not an uncommon occurrence, however. For centuries, people have been going into the woods with the intent to end it all. The problem has gotten so bad that Japanese authorities have stopped reporting suicide rates in the forest and posted signs in an attempt to dampen the popularity of the sight and discourage those who may hurt themselves. Signs found in the forest will plead visitors to “quietly think once more about your parents, siblings, and children” and that “life is a precious gift from your parents.”
Japanese mythology states that spirits and demons haunt the forest and that those who enter never come back out.
While the reputation of Aokigahara has gotten worse over the years, it isn’t the only reason the forest is terrifying. Japanese mythology states that spirits and demons haunt the forest and that those who enter never come back out. In a very real sense, this is true. Aokigahara is famously difficult to navigate, since the forest is so dense, and GPS often struggles to work (though this may have to do with high iron deposits in the soil). Aokigahara is also said to be haunted by yurei, Japanese ghosts created when someone dies with extreme negative emotions. It’s a shame that Aokigahara has such a negative appeal for some, because the woods are naturally beautiful, and there are two amazing caves to see, the Ice Cave and the Wind Cave. If you do wish to visit Aokigahara for tourism reasons, you can get a professional guide, who will help you navigate the forest.
We want to echo the sentiments of another sign from the forest. “Please don’t suffer alone, and first reach out.” If you’re struggling with thoughts of suicide, please talk to someone and get help. There are free hotlines and resources you can utilize. Your mental health and well-being are important.
La Recoleta Cemetery
Located in Buenos Aires, La Recoleta Cemetery is the final resting place of Argentina’s wealthy and powerful. Inside the mausoleums, you’ll find Nobel Prize winners, politicians, military leaders, boxers, and more. The most famous resident is actress, politician, and icon, Eva Perón. And like any cemetery, it has spooky stories attached to it. The first we’ll share is of young Rufina Cambacérès. Rufina was the 19-year-old daughter of writer and politician Eugenio Cambacérès, when one day, she suddenly collapsed. She was pronounced dead at the scene. After her burial, however, gravediggers noticed that her coffin had moved within the crypt. They checked the casket to ensure there hadn’t been grave robbers, but the reality was worse. The coffin lid was scratched and bloodied, while the young woman’s hands and face were bruised and cut. Rufina had been entombed alive having suffered an attack of catalepsy.
A man who loved his job, Alleno is said to still be taking care of the property to this day.
As for the most famous ghost story of the La Recoleta Cemetery, it involves a longtime caretaker, David Alleno, maybe the only person in the cemetery that isn’t rich or famous. Still, Alleno has a beautiful sculpture depicting him in his work attire. The legend goes that Alleno worked at the cemetery for three decades, saving up to purchase a plot for himself (which is verifiably true). On the day his plot was complete, he quit his job, went home, and committed suicide. A man who loved his job, he is said to still be taking care of the property to this day. If you’re ever walking through La Recoleta Cemetery and you hear the jingle of keys on the wind, don’t be scared. It’s just the spirit of its old caretaker, still working after all these years. On second thought, maybe be scared…
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The world is filled with spooky, exciting, and even terrifying locations to explore. While we may not be able to go out and about to them right now, we can take some time this Halloween to hear the stories that surround them. That being said, with the COVID-19 pandemic preventing us seeing the places in person, we can indulge in a pastime older than the ghosts that haunt this article — sharing ghost stories with one another! Happy Halloween!
Do you know any great ghost stories, or have you ever experienced something odd or scary? Share it with us on social media this Halloween season to fright and delight your fellow Medicareful Living readers.
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