Tuesday, October 30, 2007

World's Creepiest Places Part 2

By Ralph Martin

Manchac Swamp, Louisiana

As your boat pushes out into the swamp by torchlight, ancient cypress trees and Spanish moss drape across the water. That far-off howl you hear might just be the rou-ga-rou, the Cajun version of the Wolfman. The Manchac Swamp, a.k.a. the "haunted swamp," near New Orleans is a Southern Gothic fan's dream. An imprisoned voodoo queen is said to have cast a curse on these watery surroundings around the turn of the last century, resulting in the disappearance of three hamlets in a hurricane in 1915. The occasional corpse still surfaces in this otherwise untouched bird sanctuary, left alone by commercial development for more than 100 years. Torchlit nighttime boat tours are offered by the Old River Plantation Adventure. But beware: As anyone who has spent a night in the wild can tell you, nature can be anything but gentle, and the staring red-eyed alligators can give you a real fright as they watch your boat cruise slowly by.

Bran Castle, Bran, Romania

A vertiginous hilltop climb leads to a storybook castle that seems to have no horizontal surfaces: Endless stairways and towers are all that is visible. Inside, underground passageways connect dozens of rooms containing rococo antiques and suits of armor. All that's missing from Dracula's Castle, as Bran Castle is known, is a stormy night and a lightning bolt to illuminate the scene. A cloud of legend, local folklore, and literary pedigree hang over the dramatic fortress, perched 200 feet above the Romanian town of Bran. The castle has certainly reaped a PR bonanza as the setting for Bram Stoker's Dracula, with a reported 450,000 visitors a year—not bad for an isolated spot in Eastern Europe. The name comes from the notoriously sadistic tyrant Vlad the Impaler, known as Vlad Dracula, who is said to have used the castle as an occasional base of operations. Vlad earned his nickname by hoisting tens of thousands of enemies on stakes; one engraving shows him feasting alone at a table surrounded by a veritable forest of his victims hanging on spikes. Bram Stoker got wind of Vlad's legend and, after a visit to Romania, modeled Count Dracula's castle on this one. The castle is quite tourist-friendly, but just be aware that it closes at 4 pm, lest the sun set before visitors are safely away.

Paris Catacombs, Paris, France

Bones and skulls are stacked on either side of a narrow corridor like merchandise at a warehouse—a lot of merchandise. The air is close and cool, with just a hint of decomposition, and there's rude graffiti dating from the French Revolution, mainly about the king and the feeble nobility. Once inside, you can easily see why Victor Hugo and Anne Rice have set stories in Paris's famous Catacombs. Snaking some 187 miles through underground passages around the city, only a tiny portion is open to the public—it's said that the rest is patroled by the legendary cataflics, a special underground police force. Though guided tours are available, it's more creepy and effective to go on your own, when it's just you and millions of bones lit by the occasional low-wattage bulb. The catacombs were originally a Roman-era quarry, but when the Innocents Cemetery in central Paris started overflowing to the point of being a public health hazard in 1785, the tunnels came into their present state. Bones were carted off in elaborate nighttime ceremonies, and until 1814 the catacombs filled up with Paris's dead. You can reach out and rattle the ivory yourself if you like, but the greatest chill is in wondering which of them didn't die of natural causes.

Winchester House, San Jose, California

The Winchester "Mystery" House is a colossal construction built on a foundation of superstition. It's said that Sarah Winchester, heiress to the arms company, was told by a soothsayer that the ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles would haunt her unless she moved from Connecticut to the West and built a house that could never be finished in her lifetime. Construction started in 1884 in San Jose, California, and kept going nonstop for 38 years until her death. Now the house's 160 rooms are haunted by her madness and packed with bizarre details: Staircases go straight into the ceiling, doors open onto blank walls, spider motifs abound, and candelabras, coat hooks, and steps are arranged in multiples of 13. Reports of banging doors, footsteps in the night, moving lights, and doorknobs turning of their own accord have been occurring since the house was opened to the public. Tour options include Flashlight Tours every Friday the 13th and Halloween. But you don't have to believe in ghosts to be blown away by the scale and intricacy of the place, or the folly involved in building it.



6 comments:

NoVa said...

okay..i'll add u up on my list...hope to hear from you often....

have a nice day...

♥ KaThYcOt ♥ said...

creepy... but i love your post with re to witchcraft in mexico.. i'm a witch in my past life :)

john be anonymous said...

Manchac Swamp, Louisiana- look at those trees, parang mga deers, they rather look entertaining than creepy, hehe.. prang mga trees sa Lord of the Rings. :)

crazed_heck said...

@kathycot

i loved it too...am a fan of witchcraft but not practicing..heheh..wish ko lang...

@john

ewan ko tol ha pero me eerie feel yung trees maybe because of the color...

berg said...

i wanna visit these places, if only i'm not that much of a coward hihihi. interesting post rey! i love reading these kinds of things.

ruff nurse-du-jour said...

Hi crazed heck. Thanks for the visit. Really appreciate you dropping by. NICE RESEARCH YOU GOT HERE EH? =)

~The population of nurses/nursing students in the blogosphere is dwindling (almost close to non-existent). Its good to see that there are still nurses, like you, who are enchanted and bound to the beauty of writing.


Our interest with all things mystical probably lies with our quest to make the unknown known. When the unknown part gets too discovered, exploited and "known," the mystery loses, so does our pique.

Maybe you should include the list of most haunted hospitals.

Yung sa Pinas. =)

Just a thought.

Linked you up too. =)