These notoriously frightful cities are beset with ghastly, ghostly close encounters.
1. Madrid, Spain: Ghosts haunt all walks of life in this capital city, appearing in museums, like the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, whose central building was formerly a hospital, and even the imposing Linares Palace, once wracked by family scandal. Join one of many ghost tours and you’ll discover an urban trove of paranormal haunts.
2. Glasgow, Scotland: Glasgow is home to the sprawling Southern Necropolis (“City of the Dead”), the resting place of approximately a quarter of a million souls and maybe even one child-eating vampire with iron teeth.
3. Baguio, Philippines: You cannot stay at Baguio’s now abandoned Diplomat Hotel, but who would want to when its purported residents are the noisy spirits of nuns and priests said to have been beheaded here during World War II?
4. Drammen, Norway: In folklore, Nøkken is a shapeshifter who lures his prey to a watery death with beautiful music. Alongside Drammen’s Ypsilon bridge stands a tribute to the Nøkken: Two round River Harp sound sculptures tempt you toward the water.
5. Bahla, Oman: This desert oasis on the Arabian Peninsula is said to be home to djinns, or genies, who live in the palm groves and empty stone houses in the city center. Legend has it that one of these spirits built a city wall in one night. Tread carefully; they can also bring misfortune.
6. Zanzibar City, Tanzania: A legendary shape-shifter called Popobawa haunts this East African island city and the surrounding countryside. The one-eyed creature is said to resemble a bat. Some believe he acts like a poltergeist, creating mischief, but others report more menacing attacks on entire households.
7. Canberra, Australia: Meet the former Australian Prime Minister Ben Chifley at the Hotel Kurrajong. He is a dapper gray-suited ghost pointing from the hotel’s room 214, where he suffered a fatal heart attack in 1951, toward the Old Parliament House, another of Canberra’s haunted spots.
8. San Antonio, Texas: Who can forget the Alamo, especially given the hundreds of fatalities at the gory 1836 battle for Texas independence? Groundskeepers and visitors alike say they’ve encountered the spirits of soldiers led by Jim Bowie and William Travis that still haunt the former Mexican mission.
9. Salem, Massachusetts: In 1692, Massachusetts was gripped by hysteria: Witches are among us! Now Salem embraces the paranormal—if not the curse of Giles Corey, a victim of the witch trials who is still blamed for tragedies in “Witch City.” More than 20 Salemites were executed for witchcraft that fateful year.
10. Sighișoara, Romania: The Transylvania birthplace of the man who inspired Dracula has embraced its bloody connection to Prince Vlad III. A torture museum regales visitors with the horrific tools of “Vlad the Impaler’s” trade, and only the bravest will set out after dark to climb the long, creaky covered stairway to the medieval city’s Holy Trinity Church.
This list originally appeared in the National Geographic book The World’s Best Cities.
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