There are many places in the world that have witnessed a lot of suffering that no amount of renovating, redeveloping, or covering can hide their dark and wicked secrets.
If you’ve ever visited the Roman Colosseum or stopped at the Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC, there will always be that deadly sense of the gladiators who fought and died and the resonating memories of Pres. Abraham Lincoln being killed by John Wilkes Booth. Then there’s the bad feeling of walking in the same hallway where many Missouri inmates have met their demise or that strange feeling of finding yourself in the middle of Cambodia’s killing fields.
Yet it is a wonder why there are many a people who would wish to drive by, sneak in, or pay money for a ticket to enter these locations of grim and ghastly tragedy.
Are you brave enough? Then here are ten of the most disturbing places that you would wish to visit.
Pripyat in the Ukraine is the best example of what a post-apocalyptic city is. Long time ago, the town was inhabited by nearly 50,000 people. On April 26, 1986, an explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant unleashed radioactive particles into the air, spreading across Russia and Europe. Although only thirty-one people died, many had suffered long-term diseases such as cancer.
A day after the explosion, people evacuated the town and by then started experiencing severe headaches and bouts of vomiting. Residents were told to bring only the immediate necessities as they would return three days later. However, they were never allowed to come back, leaving behind abandoned buildings, houses, and many personal items.
Today, tourists can visit designated areas of Pripyat through organized tours. It is considered illegal to take items into the radioactive area, leave them there, or take items that are originally found in the area. Once visitors leave, they are scanned for radiation levels, and those who are detected with radiation are given chemical baths.
Serial Killer Dorothea Puente’s Home
Dorothea Puente‘s notorious crimes came as a result of her unstable marriages, miscarriages, and children who were put up for adoption. She began her criminal career in small time by forging checks, running a brothel, and befriending older men in order to steal their retirement benefits.
She resided in 1426 F. Street where she killed elderly people for their social security checks. One of the rooms of her house was said to be the exact room where she would drain the bodies of her victims, then later buried them in the back and front yards. Out of the many murders she had done, she was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1993 for only three of them.
Today, Dorothy’s home is part of a tour for the Old City Association, where about 1,000 people pay $30 to see the home.
Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea
It may come as a surprise to many to know that the North Korea, which is run by the highly secretive dictator Kim Jong-un, is accessible to tourists. Journalists, though, are banned.
Koryo Tours, a tour operator based in Beijing, transports many tourists via a vintage Russian jetliner to North Korea. Upon arrival, cell phones are confiscated, and visitors are ushered to Pyongyang, a city modeled after Soviet type blocks. Tourist interaction with the locals is closely supervised. Each day and each hour of the tour is planned with precision. Tour guides carefully look after or monitor the tourists.
It is believed that millions of North Koreans have died due to starvation and forced labor. Issues like mistreatment, lack of food and services, and the electricity that goes out at 10:00 p.m. are kept from tourists. Only a calculated image of what North Korea wants to portray to others is shown to the visitors. The rest is left for the tourists to be baffled about. But one thing is sure: the dollars brought by the tourists all proceed to government spending.
Los Angeles Museum of Death
The Museum of Death in Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, California, offers a self-guided tour of the largest collection of serial killer artwork in the world. Replicas of death masks, crime scene photography, taxidermy, mortician and autopsy instrument, videos of death scenes, and other items associated with death could be found here.
Apart from these displayed objects, what draws the most interest in the museum are the exhibits dedicated to cults and serial killers, such as those of Charles Manson and John Wayne Gacy. Gacy, who used to dress up as Pogo the Clown, used to entertain his neighborhood but was later convicted for the murder of thirty-three people, twenty-six of them buried beneath the floorboards of his home.
Hiroshima Peace Museum
On August 6, 1945, during World War II, the United States dropped nuclear weapons in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. The bomb failed to touch the ground of its intended target and exploded 800 feet away. The destruction zone covered a radius of one mile and more than 70,000 people were killed by the immediate blast and firestorm that followed. Another 70,000 were severely injured. All major hospitals were destroyed, and almost all doctors and medical staff were killed. Aside from the initial victims, hundreds of cancer-caused deaths followed.
A memorial park was established in 1955 to honor the victims of the bombings, which is visited by roughly a million visitors every year. The museum displays the belongings of the victims.
Lizzie Borden’s House
This horrifying house of Lizzie Borden at 92 Second Street in Fall River Massachusetts has now been turned into a hotel. In 1892, it was the scene of a crime that stained American consciousness. The body of Abby Borden was found almost unrecognizable after receiving multiple sharp blows. It was discovered in an upstairs bedroom of the house, while Andrew Borden was found in the parlor in a worse state.
The wealth accummulated by Andrew through shrewd business dealings was what drove people to find him unfavorable. One of those who disliked him was his youngest daughter, Lizzie.
She went on to stand trial at a time when the thought of women committing murder was inconceivable. Her contradictory statements, the lack of reliable evidences, and wild rumors of her being naked during the murder made her case one of the most prominent. After 90 minutes of deliberation, a jury composed of twelve men declared her not guilty. Lizzie went on to live out her days as an outcast in the same town.
Today, the house is most popularly known as the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum. Guests can tour the home, sit in the parlor where Andrew was hacked to death, or spend the night in the very room where Abby was murdered. The house also presents reenactments of the crime.
Missouri State Penitentiary
Time magazine once named Missouri State Penitentiary as “The Bloodiest 47 Acres in America,” and true enough as many bloody events have taken place within the walls of this prison.
It started its operation in 1836 with a population of one guard, one warden, and fifteen prisoners. Before it was decommissioned in 2004, it was the oldest operating penal facility in the Midwest.
Due to overcrowding, riots were common in the penitentiary. After each riot, several dead bodies would be seen lying on the prison floor. In the 1960s, there were hundreds of serious assaults reported that included multiple stabbings.
Today, Housing Unit 1, A-Hall, dungeon cells, the Upper Yard, Housing 3, and the Gas Chamber where forty inmates were sentenced to death are the areas available for guests to tour.
Pompeii has gained popularity as a tourist destination because of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Over 20,000 people were killed in the ancient city after volcanic ashes buried Pompeii 20 feet below. For years, the city was hidden under the modern city of Naples. It was only rediscovered initially in 1599 and 1748.
Giuseppe Florelli, an engineer, discovered pockets of void while digging through the ashes in the area. It was determined that these were spaces left by decomposed bodies. He injected these spaces with plaster in order to recreate the forms of the victims. Today, the casks are still located on site.
Remains of Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s Home
Jeffrey Dahmer was a factory worker who was also known to be a serial killer. He was arrested in 1991 and admitted to the murder of seventeen young men, some of whom had been brutalized and cannibalized. He served a few years in prison before he was killed by his cellmate.
Tours around the neighborhood, especially the vacant lot where Dahmer killed, dismembered, and stored his victims’ bodies in containers and in a refrigerator, have been occurring since the crimes happened, something which caused local residents and families of the victims to be outraged. Tour guides narrate Dahmer’s hideous acts through researched crime records and court proceedings.
Today, you can avail of a 90-minute walk through the neighborhood of the serial killer for only $30.
Kigali Genocide Memorial Center
From April to July 1994, roughly 500,000 to 1 million Rwandans were killed in an organized murder by the dominant political party at the time. Even people in the military and law enforcement were not spared. The executions were done through machetes, guns, rape, and mutilation and usually took place in their towns, homes, schools, and churches.
The killing stopped after some international intervention. Today, discrimination on the basis of race, religion, and ethnicity has been outlawed. On the tenth anniversary of the genocide, the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center opened in a location where 250,000 of the victims were buried. Eight mass graves are located on the site, as well as burial chambers and audio and visual accounts from survivors.
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