Landmarks call out to tourists worldwide. People love taking selfies at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Colosseum, the Eiffel Tower, Disney World and hundreds more. Many a tourist find something extra in their pictures once they start reviewing them. A face staring up at them from the water where the USS Arizona was sunk. Or shadows on a war memorial that resemble soldiers carrying their gear. Since Halloween is upon us, it’s time to dust off some lesser-known ghost stories surrounding landmarks, for those cold eerie nights.
10 Central Park
Janet and Rosetta Van Der Voort were two sisters born to very wealthy parents in Central Park South, NY, in the 1800s. So protective were their parents of them, the two girls could rarely leave the house without them. One of the only sources of entertainment for Janet and Rosetta came in the form of ice skating on the Central Park Pond during winter. It was one of the few places they could go by themselves.
Janet and Rosetta were extremely close, to the point where they rebuffed any and all romantic advances from the opposite sex. In 1880, they died a few months apart, both never having married.
During World War I, sightings of a ghostly pair of skaters on Central Park Pond were reported for the first time. It was said the spirits of the sisters couldn’t leave their beloved hobby behind and returned to the pond wearing the same outfits they wore when they skated there a century ago.
More sightings followed with people reporting seeing the sisters skating in summertime; their skates cutting through the air just above the surface of the water in the pond.
9 Casa Loma
Casa Loma is a Gothic Revival style mansion with a massive garden in Toronto. It resides at 460 ft above sea level and was designed by architect E.J. Lennox. The mansion has been used for filming several movie and TV scenes and is an extremely popular wedding venue.
Casa Loma is also known for its eerie ghost stories. Guests and staff alike have reported seeing a lady in white, believed to be the spirit of a maid who worked on the premises in the 1900s and who may have died of influenza. There have also been reports of children’s laughter and talking while no kids were around.
Some even claim to have seen the restless spirit of Sir Henry Pellatt who commissioned the building of the mansion as well as his wife, Lady Mary Pellatt.
Even the tunnel that leads to the stables on the mansion’s grounds is believed to be haunted. Many visitors claim to have had their hair pulled or feeling like something has grabbed hold of them.
8 Dover Castle
Every bit the medieval marvel, Dover Castle resides in Dover, Kent, England. Not only is it the largest castle in the country, it is also referred to as the ‘Key to England’ based on its historical defensive significance. On the Dover Castle grounds, stand one of three Roman-era lighthouses left in the world. During the Second World War, tunnels underneath the castle (built more than 100 years prior), were converted into an air-raid shelter and eventually an underground hospital.
It is no wonder that with such a rich history, Dover Castle built up quite the ghastly reputation for paranormal activity. When the war ended, the army stayed at the castle until 1958. Five years later, the Ministry of Works took possession of the building for preservation.
Soon after, the ghost sightings started. It has been said that in the King’s bedroom, the lower half of a person walks through the door before disappearing into thin air. Staff members have reported seeing the same apparition and following it to try and find out where it wanders to, only to have it disappear before their eyes.
Other spooky reports state that visitors have heard drumming sounds coming from the battlements while a headless ghost walks the halls. It is thought that this ghost might be that of 15-year old Sean Flynn, a drummer boy who was decapitated by two soldiers. In addition to banging doors and screams, there have been several sightings of servicemen in their uniform in the WW2 section of the tunnels that run underneath Dover Castle.
7 Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is a monument erected to honor the brave souls who died for France during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Beneath it lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Arc De Triomphe is one of the most well-known landmarks in the world. It is unfortunately also a suicide magnet. In 1878, a man jumped over the parapet of the monument and died instantly as he hit the ground below. In 1908, a woman jumped from the monument and her dress got caught on a cornice. She hung there for several minutes before her seam finally gave way and she fell to her death.
On Bastille Day in 1914, a young woman named Rose had a quarrel with her lover. In a fit of rage, Rose ascended the Arc de Triomphe and jumped, narrowly missing tourists as she fell. Now, each time a parade passes the monument, Rose repeats her death jump, to the horror of those who witness it.
6 Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings in Egypt holds the tombs of pharaohs and other nobles of the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Dynasties. To date the valley contains 63 tombs and chambers, including the tomb of Tutankhamun. It is one of the most famous sites in the world and became a World Heritage Site in 1979.
This site is no stranger to paranormal tales. It is said that archaeologists are led to discover tombs under the guidance of the restless spirits of the ancient royals and noblemen in the Valley of the Kings. Arguably however, the most popular spooky tale to come from the valley, is the vision of an Egyptian pharaoh riding a chariot at midnight. It has been reported that the spectre wears a golden collar and ancient headdress and his chariot is pulled along by black horses.
5 Breytenbach Theatre
The Breytenbach Theatre in Pretoria, South Africa started out as a German club and was eventually taken over by Emily Hobhouse who started a craft school. When the deadly global influenza epidemic struck down millions in 1918, the building was used as a temporary hospital. Those who didn’t survive the disease were buried below what is now the stage of the theatre.
A nurse named Heather took care of the ill children in the makeshift hospital until she too caught the virus and died. An urban legend was born when Heather lost her life. It is said that the nurse never left her post in life, nor in death, to make sure that whenever a child needed her she would be ready and waiting to help. Another version of the legend has the ghost of Heather asking “where are my children? The spirits of the children remained as well.
A group of paranormal investigators were so interested in this story that they took it upon themselves to investigate the theatre. They claimed to have encountered poltergeist activity, heard an unseen piano being played and witnessed the ghosts of children running over the stage. Some of the investigators reported feeling someone watching and following them as well as feeling inexplicably ill. They also claimed to have an EVP of a disembodied voice calling for help.
Moreover, it is said that a monk also haunts the theatre and caused an accident in which two drama students fell ten metres far from the ceiling of the stage. It is alleged that the monk doesn’t like the productions presented at the theatre and likes messing around with the sound and lighting and following people to the restrooms to flush the toilets and freak them out.
4 Sydney Harbor Bridge and Middle Creek Bridge
Also known as “The Coathanger”, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is an iconic landmark that was opened in 1932. It is the tallest steel arch bridge and the sixth longest spanning-arch bridge in the world.
According to legend, safety measures during construction of the bridge were not up to standard. During this time 16 deaths were recorded with a further 3 deaths covered up. It is said that 3 contractors fell into the pylons, but their absence wasn’t noticed for several weeks. When the tragedy was finally discovered, it was decided that it would be too difficult and costly to try and retrieve their bodies. Therefore, their remains are still embedded in the bridge today.
One spooky bridge isn’t all there is to talk about in Australia though: On Middle Creek Bridge near the Wakehurst Parkway, many travellers have reported seeing the spirit of Kelly, a girl in a white dress that telekinetically causes cars to crash unless the occupants explicitly state she is not wanted in the vehicle. A couple of years ago, a documentary was made about Kelly, and several crew members got sick during filming as a reaction to the terrifying tale.
3 Shaniwarwada Fort
Shaniwarwada was built in 1732 as a fortification in Pune, Maharashtra, India. After the rise of the Maratha Empire, the site was mainly used for Indian politics in the 18th century. In 1828, the fort was almost completely obliterated in a mysterious fire. The remaining walls now host tourists from all over the world.
As with most ancient structures, Shaniwarwada has its fair share of creepy legends. One of which tells of a young prince named Narayanrao that was murdered by a relative inside the fort. It is said that during the murder the boy screamed and shrieked at the top of his lungs. Now, during a full moon, if you camp out on the fort grounds, you will apparently hear the ghost of the prince screaming loudly for help. Another version of the legend says that the screaming can only be heard during new moon nights, as the brutal murder and dismemberment of the prince replays within the ruined walls of Shaniwarwada.
2 Stockholm’s Old Town
In 1520, after Danish King Kristian II invaded Sweden, 82 members of the Swedish nobility who wouldn’t swear off the opposition were beheaded or hanged in Stortorget; the Old Town’s main square. This horrific event became known as the Stockholm Bloodbath.
Legend has it that if you happen to wander through the square specifically on the nights of November 7th to 9th, you may just see the blood of the nobles slowly creeping over the cobblestones. It is also alleged that there are 82 white stones embedded in a red building in the square which were placed there in remembrance of those who died such a terrible death, centuries ago. (Some versions of the story states that 92 people were murdered and 92 stones are included in the red building) Since each stone represents a victim, it is believed that should one of the stones ever be removed, the soul of that specific person will rise from its grave and forevermore haunt Stockholm.
1 The Highland Towers
Technically no longer a landmark, the Highland Towers once formed three blocks of a 12-storey apartment in Ulu Klang, Selangor. The blocks were built between 1974 and 1982 and eventually became the new home of many expatriates.
On 11 December 1993, a combination of overloaded water pipes and monsoon rains led to an unimaginable tragedy. Block 1 of the Highland Towers resounded with a loud explosion after which it collapsed. 48 bodies were recovered during search and rescue operations.
Naturally, ghost stories and urban legends abounded in the aftermath of the terrible incident. In 1994, a taxi driver claimed to have picked up a female passenger in the middle of the night who insisted that she needed to go to Highland Towers. Arriving at the desolate site, the driver asked the woman why she needed to be there that time of the night. The woman said, “I left several of my belongings here.” When the driver enquired what could be so important that it couldn’t wait a couple of hours, the woman answered “My body and my life. I died here last year” before vanishing into thin air.
A similar story has it that a paranormal researcher was looking for evidence of ghostly activity at the site, when he ran into a little boy going up a flight of stairs. Startled, the man asked the child what he was doing there, to which the child answered, “I’m looking for my other arm, I lost it in that building there.”
In 2018, plans were announced to re-develop the now abandoned site into a recreational park. These plans are still being discussed in 2019 with the aim to start construction in 2020.