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10 Tourist Attractions That Involve Dead People

10. Lenin's Mausoleum

Moscow, Russia

Vladimir Lenin was the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution who died in 1924, but death wasn’t the end for him. Rather than laying him to rest in the ground, Russia decided to display his body before his funeral before burying, but they received over 10,000 telegrams from the public asking them to preserve his body for future generations. Now, he’s one of Russia’s biggest attractions. His body was embalmed and publically laid to rest in the Red Square, right in the middle of Moscow. Every now and then when there's a war threat, they'll pack him up and put him in the closet. But for the most part, he's been hanging out in his specially built mausoleum since his death. He can be viewed by small groups for five minutes at a time while under the watchful eye of guards. Russia doesn’t want to risk anything happening to one of their greatest idols.

9. Oscar Wilde's Tomb

Paris, France

Descendants of Oscar Wilde have either preserved or ruined his tomb, depending on your perspective. Since 1900, admirers have come to kiss his gravestone. ("Stone" in this case means "flying naked angel," because what else could it mean?) For more than a century, lipstick collected on the tomb, until 2011, when the family had the gravestone cleaned and a partition erected. Still, no-one can stop you from kissing the wall...

8. Salem, Massachusetts

Salem's history is dark and weird, but its tourism industry is maybe darker and weirder still. The town throws a Halloween party every year, but that's really just the zenith of the morbid tourist trade. Cartoon witches on broomsticks sit awkwardly alongside the very real fact that people were put to death for practicing witchcraft here. This one's worth checking out to see the cognitive dissonance alone.

7. Aoikigahara

Mount Fuji, Japan

The Sea of Trees in Japan is a quiet, contemplative place. It's also such a common place for suicide that signs on the main trail urge visitors to think about their families. It's strange to think about in such a serenely quiet place, but in 2004, 108 people killed themselves here. If you go, be warned: the rate is higher in March when the fiscal year ends. Whether that's an upside or a downside is up to you.

(image via Jordy Meow, CC)

6. The Colosseum

Rome, Italy

Sure, this is a pristine example of ancient engineering prowess, and the largest amphitheater in the world. It's also a spot where gallons of blood have been shed for centuries. Not only did executions, martyrdoms, and gladiatorial combat take place here, but on super special occasions, the Colosseum would be flooded for mock sea battles that ended with the losing boat drowning! (Don't worry; it's cool—they were prisoners.)

5. Westminster Abbey

London, England

Okay, so it's not spooky scary, but there are a lot of well-to-do dead men and women at Westminster Abbey. There are a ton of monarchs laid to rest here. There is also an entire section, known as Poets' Corner, devoted specifically to poets and musicians—Chaucer, Shakespeare, Byron, Tennyson, Wordsworth, Milton, Shelley, and Hopkins are all here, along with many others. So what the corpses lack in spookiness, they make up for in quality and quantity. When you're at Westminster, you're in good company.

(image via Carcharoth, CC)

4. Catacombs of Paris

Paris, France

As it happens, the glowing "City of Light" and of candlelit dinners and romance is built on top of the bones of about six million people. Okay, to be fair, there are a lot of tunnels under Paris, and only a tiny portion of them are used to hold the bones of six million people. The skeletons are from an early overcrowded cemetery, in use from the 12th to the 18th centuries. Tombs would rot and bodies would wash into the street when it rained until the catacombs were opened in 1785. 

3. Capuchin Catacombs

Palermo, Sicily

The monks at the Capuchin monastery made an odd discovery about 400 years ago—when they buried their friars in the catacombs, the bodies just sort of mummified on their own. Well, you know how it is when you accidentally embalm people: word gets out and soon everyone in town wants their corpse propped up in your basement. Sure enough, it became a status symbol to be entombed here. The remains are some fascinatingly well-preserved mummies.

2. Capuchin Crypts

Rome, Italy

Those wacky Capuchin monks are at it again! This six-room crypt holds the bones of the friars who have passed on, but they've been arranged with a fun twist. The skeletons have been deconstructed and used to adorn the crypt. (Hey, you gotta put 'em somewhere, right?!) Doorways, art installations on the walls, even the chandeliers are made out of human bones. If this is your kind of artwork, you might also try visiting the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic.

(image via Dnalor 01, CC)

1. Tana Toraja

South Sulawesi, Indonesia

Funerals are a big deal for the Toraja people of Indonesia. When someone dies, they are embalmed, and they stay that way for weeks (or even years) while the family raises money for the funeral. The funeral is a massive festival. There's water buffalo meat, ritual pig slaughter, cockfights, and more. Once that's done, the bodies are buried in a stone tomb in the mountain while a wooden effigy is placed on a balcony outside of the crypt.

(image via Sergey, CC)