The 6 Creepiest Places on Earth (Part 5)
Reality is often said to be stranger than fiction, but what it rarely gets credit for is being 100 times creepier than any goddamned horror movie out there. Each year we attempt to fix that inequity with a list of real-life unsettling locations that will cause the skeptical part of your brain to shit its pants out of blind, irrational fear. We don't care if you don't believe in hauntings or ghosts -- go hang out in any of these places at night and your imagination will make them haunted.
The Veterinary School of Your Nightmares
"Hey, guys! Let's go sneak into the abandoned Anderlecht Veterinary Surgical School! It'll be fun!" And why not -- this musty old building in Brussels will probably be a fascinating look into the past. Besides, it's a veterinary school, and you love animals! Hey, what's on that shelf over there?
Probably some pickled eggs and preserved vegetables.
It seems to be a bunch of jars full of-
Yes, ever since the school was moved to another location in the nearby city of Liege, the building has been abandoned, and it still contains shelves full of what appear to be grotesque mad scientist specimens preserved in formaldehyde. Specimens of what, you ask? Good question. Urban explorers who have penetrated the building have reported such things as "the head of a calf joined with the leg of a cat," and that was just the one they could identify. One look at the twisted horrors on display behind the dusty glass and you'll be convinced that this was no ordinary veterinary school:
Did that hamster eat its own head?
You're probably assuming that this is some pre-Soviet institution from back in the days when real science was just a series of pale men in dank basements trying their damnedest to bring monsters to life. You'd be wrong. The Anderlecht Veterinary School was abandoned way back in the bygone era of 1990, which means that students were still hosting frat parties in these dorms a full decade after Animal House, a title that has an altogether new meaning here.
Here's a split-level animal house.
And if you needed any other reason to stay the hell out of such a place, the whole building is now basically a sealed poison chamber. The formaldehyde used for the preservation of biological specimens tends to give off fumes. Having been abandoned for over 20 years, the unventilated building has allowed the evaporated chemicals to build up into a dense, horrific stench cloud that can literally burn your skin.
The 1990 hospital kept 1790 fear vials for fun.
Bottles of chemicals and vials of medicine can be found scattered throughout the darkened rooms, and the school has been ravaged by looting and vandalism. Potential squatters be warned, however, as tentative planning has the school set to be renovated and turned into a greenhouse. Not quite the fitting end for such a unique place, but hey, Belgians need their tomatoes. Just don't be surprised if your salads shriek with the howls of malformed creatures.
The New York Bird Shit Asylum
Taking a single wrong turn in Queens Village in New York can be a life-changing experience; you might end up mugged and stabbed amid the many rat-infested alleyways, or even worse, you might stumble upon Creedmoor Psychiatric Center. Founded in 1912, it was built to serve those whose mental illnesses left them unable to effectively care for themselves. Now its claim to fame is being steeped knee-high in bird shit.
The photographer took this, tossed the camera to a friend, and was consumed.
Generations of New York's pigeons have flocked to the Creedmoor asylum for no reason but to poop all over it, particularly in the abandoned Building 25, and the preserved towers of guano now serve as monuments to the spirit of fuck everything about this place.
It's like an indoor beach, if the sand were roach fuel.
The birds probably have a good reason to hate the old building -- at a time when similar hospitals were being shut down left and right for sanitary violations, Creedmoor made a name for itself with a dysentery outbreak. But this was the '40s, and it avoided being closed down until 20-plus years later, when an inquiry revealed that "Oh, holy shit, guys." Over a 20-month span, the hospital averaged over 10 violent crimes a month, including assaults, over 130 burglaries, fires, a riot, suicides, and a shooting.
Afterward, they cleaned the place up, producing this.
Today, some parts of the hospital are still in use, housing a few hundred patients. All of them are sitting there, knowing that nearby Building 25 is an abandoned hell of bird shit and tormented souls.
"Nurse, I don't think this is the cafeteria. Nurse? Hello?"
Fear Mountain, the Entrance to Japanese Hell
Osorezan (literally "Fear Mountain") is considered one of the three most sacred mountains in all of Japan, although if we're being totally honest here, its name isn't really all that accurate. That's not to say that it's not a hopeless gray landscape filled with sulfuric water mist and deadly pit vipers -- it totally is. Rather, it's not a mountain so much as a caldera volcano that last erupted in 1787.
Now it just waits. And watches.
Some Japanese monks actually refer to Osorezan as the "Gateway to Hell," so we're not exaggerating for comedy purposes when we say that the blasted, ash-coated landscape of Fear Mountain looks exactly like what you'd expect the entrance to actual hell to look like. In fact, the topography of the mountain happens to pretty accurately match the description of hell taught by the Tendai sect of monks. Not that that stopped them from living there.
Scattered statues keep things safe and cheery.
Not only does the mountain look like the kind of wasteland you might have to trudge through to reach Satan's eternal clubhouse (or at best, Mordor), it also hosts its own version of the River Styx. The Sanzu River that runs through the area has heavily toxic waters that have killed almost all life in and around it.
Nothing in nature is supposed to have this color.
For a price, the monks who inhabit the area will relay your message to the great beyond thanks to the convenient location of Fear Mountain and the magic mushroom they use to put themselves in a trance. To access their inner medium, the itako shamans ingest an indigenous mushroom known as the Devil Skull Mushroom, which seems fitting.
And, if you believe that in the final days the Devil will emerge from hell and roam the Earth, we have good news: We're pretty sure we know where you can wait for him to pop out.
Kings Park Psychiatric Center
Yes, it's hard to do one of these articles without putting one or two closed asylums on the list -- hell, you can't find an abandoned mental hospital that doesn't look like its halls echo with the howls of the damned.
That brings us to Long Island, New York, where you'll find the closest thing we have to a real life version of Arkham Asylum. The abandoned Kings Park Psychiatric Center -- or, as they called it, the Lunatic Farm -- is just the kind of place where you could imagine deranged clowns and animal-theme villains roaming the halls.
Least. Necessary. Sign. Ever.
The idea behind the first version of the site in 1885 was rather noble. Instead of the nightmarish Tim Burton wet dream that it became, the Suffolk County facility was supposed to provide a rural breath of fresh air where patients could go relatively unconfined.
Even now, it gives off that "unrestrained lunatics" aura.
There was just one problem: As the Big Apple chewed on its residents' sanity, the asylum just kept filling with patients, and as their numbers grew, the staff's goodwill toward them faded. By 1954, Kings Park had essentially become the overcrowded poop-stained madhouse prison it had been specifically created to fight against. In fact, with 9,300 patients, the 125-building, 800-acre asylum was actually bigger than the neighboring town. Because nothing bad could ever come of keeping over 9,000 criminally insane people just one shanked prison guard away from overrunning downtown New York.
Some days, they ran out of applesauce. Bloodshed ensued.
Today, the complex stands in a state of abandon, partially reclaimed by nature, and, if you believe in ghosts, completely reclaimed by the vengeful spirits of its patients -- especially the ones from its most lobotomy- and electro-shock-therapy-happy era. People report sightings of ghostly sobbing maidens, sudden temperature drops, and poltergeist activity. There are even rumors of hidden torture chambers in its many underground tunnels. Who are we to argue?
Oh, did we mention that the place has its own graveyard? And yes, it's said to be haunted by a ghost that chases trespassers away.
Hundreds of bodies, but the gravedigger laid one plaque and then fled.
Although the various terror buildings of Kings Park are technically restricted from the public, spelunkers routinely demonstrate they're easy as shit to get into. Here's how they look from the inside:
Meanwhile, the area itself serves as an unofficial extension of a nearby state park, routinely allowing unassuming weekend hikers to accidentally stumble into their worst nightmares.
The Abandoned East German Theme Park
Speaking of which, let's say you're taking a leisurely walk around Berlin on a dreary day. You round the corner to find yourself faced with a giant headless prehistoric creature, crouching and staring at you with the black void of its neck stump:
The loose head presumably just inches away in the grass.
You have stumbled across Spreepark, an abandoned theme park that has been sitting in disrepair since 2001 and is slowly being reclaimed by the land. It was known as Kulturpark Planterwald when it opened in 1969, which is way back when the Germans didn't get along with one another, and it was East Germany's only permanent theme park. Now it's just a carnival of lost communist souls.
Eating communist cotton candy. Which is gray.
Despite the miasma of sorrow hanging about Soviet-era East Germany, Spreepark at one point welcomed 1.7 million visitors per year. One of the main draws was their giant, 45-meter-tall Ferris wheel. The wheel still stands, but it lords over the ghostly, silent horrorscape of rotting attractions. If you listen closely, you can still hear children screaming. Don't cry, little one! We'll take a ride in Hitler's head:
It's the last place he'd look for us!
At the foot of the wheel, you can see a family of derelict dinosaur automatons and a mammoth, staring with cold plastic eyes, often slumping over as if slowly going extinct a second time.
Only this time with vandals drawing dicks on their dead faces.
Most of the rides and attractions are still present, including swan boats, a large Viking ship, and a few roller coasters, including one that leads into the mouth of a giant psychedelic space-cat.
Pissed because Hitler preferred dogs.
Unfortunately for Spreepark, as the Berlin Wall came down and the evils of communism were defeated, the park experienced a sharp decline in tourism. The newly liberated society was too busy enjoying its new freedoms to spend any more time floating around in giant swans and riding into Dali-esque cat-mouths.
Fun fact: After the park closed, the operator traveled to Lima, Peru, along with several pieces of equipment for the park, on the basis of needing maintenance. When he tried to return to Germany in 2004, parts in tow, it was discovered that he was using a piece of the Flying Carpet ride as a hiding place for cocaine. About $14 million in cocaine, to be exact.
The Plague Fortress of Saint Petersburg
The city of Saint Petersburg has seen its fair share of horror, from bloodthirsty czars to full-on Nazi sieges. A metropolis with millions of people and a long history, it is no surprise that the city has some dark secrets lurking within its murky underbelly. Sorry, did we say "lurking"? We meant "proudly on display." Because the first shit you see when you enter Saint Petersburg from the sea is a bona fide horror citadel. Fort Emperor Alexander I is a heavily fortified island just off the coast of the city, greeting visiting ships with the kind of middle finger only an ominous, dark structure with 103 gun ports can provide.
Or it could be a man-made penguin isle, if you really really want it to.
The innards of Fort Alexander are a textbook example of the sort of balls-out creepiness that would make the Scooby-Doo gang haul ass at the first creaking door. Its interior design features claustrophobic dungeon corridors, rusty, maze-like iron stairs, and the ghostly huddle of tortured souls, filling your ears with Slavic whispers of the terrifying experiments they were subjected to.
Walk down the lower stairs. You will somehow find yourself on the upper ones, escape impossible.
Because of course there were terrifying experiments. Fort Alexander's ghastly appearance is by far the least threatening thing about it. The place has another, far more widespread name: The Plague Fort. When the late 19th century decided to smack Russia with a sackful of pestilence, the officials took a look at Fort Alexander and decided it would make a mighty fine place for a secret laboratory where their mad scientists could poke at the disease.
All those creepy corridors and cellars became the playground of old school Russian science dudes from an organization called the Institute of Experimental Medicine, and this was their typical Tuesday:
Now you know what a "plagued camel" looks like.
The actual point of the Plague Fort's research was to produce a vaccine, which the scientists secreted from the lymph of various huge animals (such as horses and, interestingly, camels) with all the lack of kindness and comfort Russian medicine could offer. Still, the work was extremely dangerous: People on the island kept catching the disease (entirely by accident, we're sure).
The Plague Fort operated until 1917, when the freshly Sovieted country took one look at that shit, decided it was too creepy for even them, and promptly shut it down.
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Related Reading: Looking for more of the creepiest places on earth? Check out Cracked's atlas of terror. If you'd like a list of terrifying places you can visit without leaving your chair, check out the creepiest places online. Oh hey, take some corpses left out in the open for good measure.