Though weird, the popularity of Dark tourism is on the rise. Exactly what features draw the tourist to sites of death and destruction is a matter of scholarly interest and under serious study. Human psychology is a much researched matter and it is the myriad variations of human mind that some are drawn towards destination of death and massacre. History bears all the imprints of gruesome human acts, which teaches us repeatedly to care for mankind. While man is helpless to nature’s wrath but it is the collective human effort that helps to rebuild from the massive destruction. Here an attempt has been made to enlist ten most macabre destinations in the world which have won tourists penchant.
1)The Nazi Concentration Camps:
The Nazi concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Oswiecim, Dachau and Buchenwald are grim reminders of the horrific persecution suffered by the Jews, Polish and non Nazis and stamped out and reduced to charred remains in the most grisly manner. The gruesome sites conserve the reminiscence of over one million poor souls who met their tragic ends in the most pathetic way. The relics of lethal gas chambers would set your hair erect. Guided tours and well preserved museum across this macabre site have made it a well known Death Tourism destination.
2)Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan:
These legendary cities of Japan bear the scar of atomic bombing. It is a stigma to the human race and yet large crowd of tourists find this Dark tourism destination a place of massive appeal. The Hiroshima Peace Museum sees millions of tourist visits every year. It exhibits the possessions of those poor victims perished under the mammoth impact of the atomic bomb dropped from Enola Gay, the plane back in 1945. The site is presented in two parts exhibiting how the city looked like before and after the bombing.
3) Ground Zero, New York, USA:
The world shivers at this name. The air raids inflicted on world trade centre and pentagon by the terrorists is perhaps one of the worst crimes committed against humanity. The terror struck on 11th September 2001 led to a large scale destruction of human life and property. A memorial and museum have been set up pulling in a large number of dark tourists every year. People gather to recollect those horrifying moments with a silent prayer that such an incident is never repeated in the history of mankind.
This strife torn central European site had been a ground for bloodbath that was noted for the most vicious battle fought during the World War 1. Battles fought between the Germans and the allied forces was long and fierce which happened in 1914-15, and the blood drenched ground still appeals the tourists on a global scale. This town has a special mention in the history of first and second world wars. However, the name was difficult for pronunciation and the British army called the place ‘Wipers’, a place lethal enough to wipe out the human race altogether.
5)Khmer Rouge mayhem in Cambodia:
The dictatorship of general Pol Pot during the Khmer Rouge regime had released a reign of terror and atrocities among the civilians which erased almost a fourth of Cambodia’s population. Mounds of skulls and dental remains of the poor victims shock the visiting tourists. Phnompenh had earned the name of Cambodia’s killing fields especially Choeung Ek presents a horrible flash back of the spell of panic and terror unleashed in the Khmer Rouge regime. It was when the urban dwellers refused to move to the rural areas and engage in collective farming, a policy that Pol Pot’s communistic ideals tried to enforce on the civilians. Torture and execution followed the defiance leading to gory outcome, and the place turned out to be one of the destinations of Death Tourism.
6)Old Melbourne Gaol, Australia:
This infamous prison in fact has a dark and hideous past as execution of 135 prisoners took place just here. The Gaol houses the oldest prison in Melbourne. Notorious gangsters like Squizzy Taylor and the bushranger Ned Kelly spent their dark hours within the walls of this dungeon and were eventually executed. There is an execution area for the tourists to explore and quite ironically enough Ned Kelly’s death mask is on public display. Police city watch house and the magistrate’s court are other attractions of Melbourne Gaol. There is a popular night tour with a hangman to guide you around and explain its history in finer details.
Twenty seven years after the mishap, the enthusiasts take a tour around the power plant. The tourists get to see the killer reactor and the dead town of Pripyat. A tour around the ghost town brings back harrowing memories of the nuclear calamity in which victims perished. The tourists may visit the village of Opachychi, meet and have conversation with the re-settlers who were evacuated and moved to their villages. Though the progress of human civilization continues its forward march, this incident will continue to haunt reminding of the lapses and faults to be strictly avoided in the path of growth. Photography is permitted.
8) Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris:
This largest cemetery in Paris is surprisingly a crowd puller. Many celebrities lie in eternal sleep under ground in this famous graveyard. The mortal remains of Oscar Wilde, Frederic Chopin, Marcel Proust, Jim Morrison and Edith Piaf are laid to rest here that continue to draw in visitors from all over the world. Tourists gathering here love to recall the contributions of these stalwarts in various aspects of mankind and pay due respect.
This ancient Roman city was ruined to ashes in AD 79 when Mt Vesuvius spewed volcanic lava extinguishing a large number of human lives. The plaster casts of victims of volcanic eruption present a touching accolade to those struggled in the last moments of death and agony. Mt Vesuvius is still active and looms ominously over the Bay of Naples. This event has turned Pompeii is one of the famous tourist destinations in Italy. The catastrophe that occurred in the past is a strong lure and appealing enough for the tourist to make a visit. An estimated 2000 victims were buried alive beneath the molten lava, their bodies forming a permanent cast in the volcanic wreckage. A scene ghastly no doubt but is still a powerful tourist puller.
10)Titanic Museum, Belfast, Ireland:
Not in their wildest of dreams the crew and passengers of Titanic thought it would be their ultimate journey while boarding the world famous luxury liner, which was supposed to be ‘unsinkable’. But fate proved otherwise in the maiden voyage of Titanic, a black saga in the history of marine voyage. This museum has been inaugurated to commemorate the centenary since the luxury cruise ship TITANIC went down under the deep carrying crews and passengers into the depths of abysmal death. This museum is built in site of the legendary workshop where Titanic was built. The artifacts and vestiges of the sunk ship narrates the tale starting from the ship’s engineering drawing, construction and its culmination into death under the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. It is the most infamous ocean tragedy that took affluent passengers on a journey from high end luxury and mirth to the terrifying grips of freezing death!