King Tutankhamen's Tomb
When King Tut's tomb was opened in 1922, one of the backers of the expedition was present and overly eager to see what the tomb hid inside. The man was an amateur Egyptologist and an aristocrat. He died a year after the tomb was opened, the first victim of the curse. In reality, he died of a mosquito-borne illness.
The curse rumor was spread by British archaeologist Howard Carter, who discovered the tomb. He noticed some people had pillaged it a little in the centuries before he found it, and he played up the pulp-fiction idea of a cursed tomb to scare other grave-robbers away. At least the mummy remains in Egypt in the Valley of the Kings because traveling with it sounds disastrous.
The Bermuda Triangle is sort of like quicksand — and if you watched a lot of TV as a child, you probably grew up thinking it was a much bigger day-to-day problem than it actually turns out to be. In 1945, five planes on a training mission disappeared without a trace.
Even worse, the seaplane sent to find the missing planes also disappeared. Then over the next decade, three more planes and a yacht disappeared in the area, followed by a couple of Air Force Stratotankers. Many people reached the same spooky conclusion... Like, the Bermuda Triangle is obviously cursed, right?
Aokigahara AKAK the "Sea of Trees" borders Mount Fuji with over 12 square miles of hardened lava making up the forest floor. This is Japan's "suicide forest" and is possessed with an eerie calm, aided by the volcanic-rock floor and the density of the trees. This deathly calm may be augmented by the knowledge that 30 bodies are found in these woods on average every year.
According to Japanese mythology, the forest is home to ghosts, which they call yurei. A 1960 novel about the place may have boosted its popularity, but the forest was associated with self-harm and death long before that. And due to Aokigahara's depressing reputation, Japan has lined the forest's trails with signs advising visitors to think of everything from their families to the closest suicide prevention association.
Aokigahara isn't the only forest of death in the world. Epping Forest has long been a hideout for thieves since the days of notorious highwaymen like Dick Turpin, Tom King, and Jack Rann. They fled to the forest for coverage after robbing wealthy coaches that traveled the road to Newmarket.
But the sinister aura of this forest isn't only confined to events of the past. Over a dozen bodies have been found in the woods from 1966 up to 2015. One could certainly assume that most of those people were dumped here rather than actually murdered in the forest itself, but it's still a hard thing to forget as you walk along the forest's trails.
Leakin Park AKA "Gwynns Falls" is well-known to Baltimore locals as "the city's largest unregistered graveyard." One blog lists the body count at 71 since 1946 but admits that it could be higher than that. The park is advertised as the perfect family-friendly destination for "active recreation," historic sightseeing, and nature walks along stream valleys and meadows.
It's all an attempt to overcome the stigma of crime placed against it, with the city planner Molly Gallant leading efforts to pull a 180 on the park's reputation using campouts, hiking, and nature trails to appeal to the Baltimore natives. The park has re-emerged in the national consciousness lately thanks to The Wire and, more recently, the viral podcast Serial, an in-depth investigation into the murder of a girl whose body was found in Leakin Park.
Sometimes in fantasy stories or blockbuster action movies, the primary villain will be some kind of monster made of toxic sludge. For instance, the cult classic The Toxic Avenger got three sequels, a cartoon, and a musical. Godzilla fought the smog monster Hedorah twice. If ever something like that were to happen for real, it just might be in Newtown Creek.
It connects to the East River between Brooklyn and Queens and was filled with what scientists described as "black mayonnaise" as a result of petroleum waste and sewage. A 15-foot thick layer of petroleum by-products rests on the creek floor, and all that great sludge feeds into the East River. It doesn't take a genius to realize that whatever it takes to make a place cursed has probably happened here.
Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
In the Judge Dredd comics, most of the United States is a radioactive desert called "Cursed Earth." We don't have to live with anything that extreme, but we do have at least one real-life thing that is similar. The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is a barrier set up around the Chernobyl power plant in the wake of the meltdown.
It's been evacuated, but a couple of hundred people refuse to leave. Others have to work here, taking alternating shifts in the process of decommissioning the reactors. Still, between the knowledge that radiation contamination persists in places and the way that nature has started to take the villages back, the place is eerie.
The Australian Outback does not want us to live there. All the signs pointing to "danger" and "this place is definitely cursed" exist in the arid Outback. In 2013, the area got so hot that people couldn't pump gas because it was evaporating before it hit the tank. Yes, the gasoline was evaporating! And don't even get us started on the countless deadly creatures roaming the Red Centre.
We stopped listing Australian animals in our list of tiny, deadly creatures because we didn't want the article to be all about one place. Long story short, the forces of nature have combined to make the Outback pointedly inhospitable. If that doesn't count as "cursed," we're not sure what does.
Auschwitz has a long, sordid history that we wish wasn't real. This location in Poland was home to one of the most notorious Holocaust concentration camps operated by Nazi Germany during World War II. This place is certainly cursed — not by jokey historical figures or vague superstition, but by the undeniably evil work of human hands.
Despite how hard it is to walk through — and to think about — Auschwitz is certainly a place everyone needs to see at least once. There is an oppressive weight to the very air that sticks with you while you're at Auschwitz, and it lasts long after you've left.
Danvers State Hospital
Massachusetts is currently in the middle of an egregious mental health scandal, but controversies like that aren't new territory for the state. Danvers State Hospital AKA "The Danvers Lunatic Asylum" — the hospital that probably inspired H.P. Lovecraft's "Arkham Sanatorium" — has been a blot on the state's history for decades.
With over 2,300 people crammed into a building made for 600 patients, most of the common shorthands for "terrifying psych ward" apply here, from solitary confinement to massively overused prefrontal lobotomies. The building was mostly torn down. The facade stands in front of an apartment complex, but we wouldn't take a chance on those not being haunted.
Catacombs of Paris
Paris is known as the city of lights and the epicenter of romance, but it's also one of our favorite tourist attractions involving dead people (despite how morbid it sounds when it's put that way.) That's because the catacombs beneath the city hold the remains of some six million individuals.
These bodies are leftover from a period of time when the Parisian cemeteries were so overcrowded that corpses would wash into the street when it rained. You throw that many skeletons under the roads, and there's definitely going to be some cursing happening, or a mild haunting at the least.
Island of the Dolls
This story actually begins sweetly. Don Julian Santana, the caretaker of the island, found a girl drowned in the surrounding waters. Later, after finding a doll floating in the water, he hung it in the trees of Mexico to show respect and support. The act was tender and sweet. But then he kept doing it and didn't stop.
The man kept hanging dolls for 50 years! That much of anything tied up in one place is going to be creepy, and when it's dolls, it's especially creepy. The weirdest part of the story is that Santana ultimately drowned in the same waters. If that doesn't point to the area being cursed, we don't know what would be.
The Tower of London
It's true that most of the Tower of London's executions were held at nearby Tower Hill, but the Tower is where all of those miserable souls were kept. If you were a ghost whose only goal was to curse or haunt a place, would you pick the place where you were chained up for years or the place where you finally died?
We'd say it'd probably be the former... This place is almost certainly cursed, right down to the Crown Jewels and the little red museum display buttons you press to hear the descriptions of historical items when you tour the place. Not that we'd ever feel comfortable enough to roam its eerie halls.