Halloween is a weird time, mixing fear and fun. People get joy out of being scared and gain a strangely sadistic satisfaction from the terror of horror stories. Once a year, you can embrace this bizarre paradox. Some of the best places to do so are scattered around Europe.
Halloween in Europe
Europe is a place of stories, and the scariest of stories are no exception. So hit the road, and turn your travels into a purposeful journey of embracing these terrifying tales. Visit the sites of nightmares, and push your fears to their limits. You will find it all weirdly enjoyable.
Church of Ghosts, Czech Republic
Not a vision, not a delusion, not a nightmare; the ghosts of St George’s Church are real. True, the Czech artist, Jakub Hadrava, created them. However creepy, these ghosts are no more than an elaborate piece of artwork. Still, their existence is a reality, rather than a story.
By Juandev (photo), Jakub Hadrava (sculpture/instaltion) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
They sit, still and solemn, in the pews of the 13th Century Church. With white hoods, bowed heads and hidden faces, these ghostly figures represent the troubled past of the area. War and fire repeatedly destroyed the church, and eventually, its parish left it abandoned.
They are the ghosts of those who used to pray here before they got killed in the war. On a positive note, the ghostly presence brings tourists to the area, who bring donations helping to restore the decrepit church to its former glory.
They say that, while walking through the streets of York, one in every five people you pass is a ghost. Although perhaps not a reliable statistic, people firmly believe this to be the most haunted city in Britain.
Ghost tours travel the streets at night, taking tourists to the numerous ghostly locations. Between York Castle Museum, Clifford’s Tower and the Jorvik Viking Centre, there are stories of spectral children on film sets, Viking phantoms and the ghost of a hanged man called Roger.
But the creepiest of all York tales is that of the Golden Fleece, an inn where guests can spend the night. Indeed, sleeping in a haunted hotel is the ultimate way to spend your Halloween in Europe. Here, a Canadian Airman broke his neck falling from a window. He now haunts the halls as a shadow in the corner of your eye. Holding this story in your mind, while settling down in a lonely, empty room, is enough to trouble even the most cynical of guests.
The SS America, Canary Islands, Spain
Once the pride of the US Navy, the SS America is now one of the creepiest and most infamous shipwrecks in the world. When hit by a thunderstorm, the sea ruined the once mighty vessel and left it abandoned on the coast of Fuerteventura. Never salvaged, it sits there today, twenty years later, slowly decaying and growing in eeriness.
Rather than holding particular, phantom tales, its image in itself is ghostly enough to spook tourists. To sit on the shore and see this large, sturdy ship so far beyond repair is sufficient to make anyone feel uneasy. It holds a creepy, mysterious quality; an image perfect to witness during your Halloween in Europe.
Better known as The Haunted Vicarage, this small building holds a multitude of creepy mysteries. Stories of ghosts began when an invisible force tore down washing from the clothesline. Knocked rocking chairs, instant appearances and a phantom woman in gray; these creepy domestic signs might seem tame in the light of day. But numerous residents have convinced the local community that these moments are not as docile as they might seem. One man even claims that a ghost forcibly threw him from his chair, across the room.
When you are all alone, in an old, haunted house, small occurrences magnify into a terrifying reality. Doesn’t sound scary? If you think you can take it, the vicarage invites you to spend the night. In return, you even gain a certificate of bravery – if you survive.
Vodnjan Mummies, Vodnjan Croatia
Vampires, werewolves, witches; these are the classic figures of Halloween. What else? Mummies. Real, tangible, scary things. And they are not restricted to Egypt, Croatia has them too. The only difference is that these are not the exceptional emperors, not queens or pharaohs, just ordinary people. Yet they have refused to decompose.
People buried the mummies of Vodnjan with little care, yet they are unnaturally well preserved. A nun, who died in the 16th Century, has one of the most unspoiled bodies. Visitors have claimed that being in her presence has healed them. The result is a mystical air surrounding this collection of mummies.
Mummies are creepy enough, but when they supposedly possess supernatural powers, their scary nature heightens even more. Although not aggressive or threatening, the mummies of Vodnjan are no doubt spine chilling, and visiting them is an ideal way to spend Halloween in Europe.
Hoia Baciu Forest, Romania
The refreshing thing about Hoia Baciu Forest in Romania is that, although still terrifying, you get to enjoy the fresh air of being outside. Not all haunted places are restricted to buildings; this zone of terror is a whole forest.
In the layers of trees and natural darkness, forests can be a bit creepy in the best of situations. But when those trees are masking hidden, unspoken dangers, their disturbing qualities hit a whole new level. The uneasy feeling of this forest comes from real life experiences – of walkers feeling followed, electronic items malfunctioning, and an inexplicable dead zone in the center, where nature refuses to grow.
There are even rumors of UFO sightings; mysterious orbs that float in the darkness. At least a haunted house is enclosed; the dangers are restricted. Walk through this forest during a Halloween in Europe, and the dangers are limitless.
If these are too scary for you, most places in Europe just have fun at Halloween. So carve some pumpkins, have a party, dress up and have a merry time, without the scary stories dragging you down. Yet, to be scared is the whole point. So if you do want to embrace the thrills this year, spend your Halloween in Europe and explore its many terrifying locations.