Nearly two years ago I wrote a list titled Top 10 Haunted US College Campuses, which ended up being immensely more popular than I could have ever imagined. I read the comments, and saw that many were demanding a sequel for haunted universities around the globe. I became too busy with my studies, however, to have time to put together a well-researched list. Now that I have graduated, I have a little more free time on my hands and began to look into the topic of haunted universities around the world.
I know this site has a worldwide audience, so if you attend school outside the U.S. and would like to share your ghost stories, please do so in the comment section and perhaps a list of viewer-submitted haunts will appear sometime in the future. I apologize for the two year delay, but at long last here are 10 haunted universities from around the world!
The location is the former White Dove Hotel in Aberdeen. The story goes that a young actress named simply Miss Vining (I searched and found no records) had fallen very ill, and was confined to her bedroom under 24-hour surveillance. As the nurse was checking her patient late one night, her eyes were drawn to the far side of the room. Next to the wall sat a small child in a dress, with a large hat covering her facial features. The nurse rose to speak but found she could not move. She recalls hearing a young girl’s giggle, growing slowly louder – until she herself lost consciousness. When she awoke, the girl was gone. Miss Vining’s fever had worsened, but the nurse was able to get up and care for her. The girl was spotted several more times in the same room, never revealing her face.
What does this have to do with the university? Well, the hotel in question fell into ruin and was eventually demolished, and it appears that the now-homeless ghost took up residence on the university grounds. A young girl, wearing a large hat, has been seen skipping down sidewalks late at night, only to disappear when approached by concerned students.
Heidelberg – founded in 1386 – has a long and sometimes dark history. Many hauntings have their origin in the Nazi era. During this time, some Jewish and Communist professors at the university were put on trains bound for the concentration camps. At least two professors are known to have fallen victim to the Nazi terror. While the ghosts themselves have not been seen, the chalkboards in these professors’ old lecture halls have been reported to “self-erase”, or to have mysterious words written on them the following day…all occurring after the rooms have been locked for the evening.
In 1933, the university participated in Nazi book burnings in the University Square, and it is said that on the anniversary of this event, one can still smell the burning leather and smoke while walking through the square. Perhaps the scariest hauntings take place in the University Clinic, where evening staff have reported hearing the sounds of a woman weeping. Nazi eugenics, or forced sterilizations, were carried out on many women here who did not fit in with the Nazi view of “the perfect being”.
Moscow State University
Completed in 1953, this university was doomed from the start, due to the manner of its construction. It was built entirely by Gulag prisoners and German prisoners of war leftover from world war two. Some 14,000 workers are said to have been working during the peak of the construction. Conditions and food were poor, and many died of exposure and malnutrition. Any caught slacking or refusing to work were either shot at the site, or deported and executed elsewhere.
Prisoners were housed on the upper floors of the building, to prevent them from escaping during the night. Several failed escape attempts were made, including a man who attempted to fly a hand built wooden glider from the 14th floor but ended up falling to his death. While construction has long since ceased, the ghosts of those who spent their final days here remained, forced like Sisyphus to work endlessly on a job that they were never able to complete. Witnesses have reported sounds of construction, blood-curdling cries, and even fleeting glimpses of men in ragged clothing, on the upper floors where the inmates were housed.
Chinese University of Hong Kong
Established in 1963, CUHK is the second oldest university in Hong Kong. It is home to several particularly creepy haunts. Along Single Braid Road, which runs alongside the campus, a woman with long braided hair is said to seek young men walking alone during the evening. While this may not sound so awful, a closer inspection will soon reveal her complete lack of facial features. Seeing the horrified looks of those who approached her, she quickly disappears.
Being established in 1209, Cambridge is the fourth oldest university in the world that is still in use today, and the second oldest in England. It has seen its fair share of atrocities, and has survived countless wars and invasions, so it comes as no surprise that it is home to several haunts. Perhaps its most famous spirit is that of the late Lord Proctor of England and, according to a previous list, one of the most evil men in the world: Oliver Cromwell.
Or at least part of him. The man was so hated that, following his death, his body was dug up, hung, and beheaded. His body was thrown in a shallow grave, while his head decorated a pike on top of Westminster Abby for over 20 years. After being taken down, the head passed through several hands before finally coming to rest at the Sidney Sussex College. Since then, it has been seen floating about the campus grounds and even peering into classrooms, supposedly searching for the rest of its body.
Though not always the case, most hauntings seem to follow a tragedy of some sort, typically a death or murder. Mass death can result in mass hauntings – and this has been the case with Peking University.
The haunting comes from one of the more recent tragic events in the world – that of the Tiananmen Square protests and massacre of 1989. The protests began on April 22, 1989 with the death of former Party Chairman and Party General Secretary of the People’s Republic of China, who was looked upon very highly by many students who felt the party had mistreated him. Though the demonstrations were peaceful at first, the government did not look kindly upon the protesting students, who numbered in the tens of thousands. At around 10:30pm on the evening on June 4, the army began firing live rounds at the students. Hundreds – possibly thousands – were killed.
Ghosts of students, civilians, and soldiers killed during the massacre are said to haunt the streets and walkways around the square and university. Unexplained shouting, ghostly figures, and strange smells have all been reported.
The university was officially established in 1949, though the medical school in Nagasaki dates back to 1857. The hauntings are reportedly a direct result of the events of August 9th, 1945. On this date, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city in an effort to end the war with Japan. The medical college was located a mere 600 meters from the hypocenter, and was heavily damaged by the explosion. Over 800 medical workers, students, and professors were killed instantly. Some 70,000 people were estimated to have been killed in the blast. The university grounds, along with many locations in the city, are said to be haunted by the spirits of those who lost their lives. Ghostly figures wandering the campus and academic corridors, along with screams, cries, and the smell of burning flesh, have all been reported.
University of Toulouse
Established in 1229, it is one of the oldest universities in France. The city and university grounds of Toulouse have seen much bloodshed over the years. During the Medieval Inquisition in 1278, many Jews who had made their home in Toulouse were brought to trial – by some accounts, on university grounds. Those found guilty of heresy and other crimes were condemned to be burned at the stake.
Additionally, the riots of Toulouse in 1562 saw the violent deaths of 3,000 to 5,000 citizens over the course of a week. And many were executed by guillotine during the grizzly aftermath of the French revolution, as the city was home to many royalists. The city was attacked in both 1799 and 1814 by the British and Spanish armies.
Ghosts in medieval attire are – perhaps unsurprisingly – said to haunt the campus grounds. It is said the smell of gunpowder comes and goes at several locations on campus. One student returning to his residence hall supposedly ran into a group of French soldiers dressed in military attire. They looked him over, before shouldering their ghostly firearms and marching away, vanishing around a corner as the student stood stunned.
Though the exact date of its founding is unknown, most historians agree teaching was occurring here since before 1096. It is the second oldest surviving university in the world, after the University of Bologna in Italy. The campus has been home to some particularly famous haunts over the centuries.
King Charles I, most famously known for losing his head, has been seen at Oxford. He typically haunts the grounds of Christ Church College, and has been seen both with and without his head. One of his army commanders – also shot for treason on the university grounds – likewise appears. A pale faced figure, wearing the look of a priest, reportedly haunts the New College, while a clergyman named Cuthbert Shield ghost has taken up residence in the Queens college. A student who hanged himself in St. Edmund Hall is said to haunt the suitcase there, while the twin boys of the Bishop of Liverpool who founded St. Peter’s College are said to playfully haunt several buildings. This is another entry where a whole list could be written about the various hauntings.
University of Toronto
I will be the first to admit that I never thought a college in Canada would be #1, as I have heard stories about Oxford for years and believed it would be a shoo-in for this spot. However, this was the only story that had pictorial proof to back it up, so I thought it deserved this spot.
Founded in 1827, this university has several ghosts associated with it. Many thanks to the University of Toronto Magazine, which made researching this one very easy. The first involves a stonemason called Ivan Reznikoff, who disappeared during the college’s construction. Fast forward to 1889, when a student encountered a darkly clad figure on campus as he was heading back to his residence.
The figure claimed he had a story to tell, so the student invited him back to his place and they began drinking. The man claimed to be the ghost of Ivan, and told the student that he had died in an argument with the project foreman, Paul Diablos, who he believed was trying to steal his fiancé. Furious, he surprised Diablos outside of his quarters with an axe. The first blow missed, and struck a wooden door. This door still exists today, and can be seen in the image above. The man claimed that he had chased Diablos into the building, but hadn’t been able to find where his boss had hidden. As he was about to leave the room, he felt a knife pierce his back, and the world went black. He told the student that Diablos had hidden his body in an incomplete ventilation shaft.
When the student awoke the next day, his drinking buddy was gone, and he passed it off as a bad dream. Several years later, part of the building burned down in a fire, and the skeleton of a man wearing a mason’s belt was supposedly discovered.