7 Bone-chilling Places to See Tombs, Ancient Catacombs and Mummies around the World
Updated: May 4
"X" marks the spot - the Roman numeral ten is blasted by pounds of metal as Indiana Jones tries to break open the marble flooring below his feet in the Venice library of San Barnaba. Paired with only the light of an oil soaked torch, he trudges through the rat infested sewage to the tomb of one of the knights of the holy grail. Thankfully, visiting tombs is not like this, but I have visited enough of them to tell you the creep value is still there. Below I share with you 7 of these places I've visited around the globe that are sure to raise your arm hairs if you visit.
BEWARE: Some of the images I share will be very disturbing to see. I have saved the scariest photos for last.
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St John's Co Cathedral, Valletta
Speaking of marble tombstones, Valletta's highly visited tourist attraction has the coolest marble flooring I can recall seeing in a cathedral. The entire floor of the Church is covered with marble tombstones. If you want to learn more about stepping on these ornate tombstones, go to the link below:
Tour info: check out this inexpensive walking tour of Valletta, which includes a visit to the cathedral.
Spook Factor: 1/5
Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, Paola
Hypogeum, meaning 'underground' in Greek, is in this case an underground burial chamber. This famed one in Malta is so old, it is from Neolithic times - the late stone age! Like 10,000 BC*. Anyone watching La Brea will understand - saber tooth tigers, folks in furs and wooly mammoth times. So how did they end up finding this in Malta in modern times? As most stories of finding ruins can attest, this was found by accident in 1902 by a stone mason looking to built houses.
If you have the foresight, buy a ticket to this place before you step foot in Malta - they always sell out of tickets. It's a fascinating tour that leads you down multiple levels into the depths of the earth. You crawl through stone tunnels and definitely feel the chill of death as you creep through dimly lit passageways. They even share a tale or two of potential alien inhabitants, due to the shape of the skulls found there. Not to be redundant, but has anyone seen Indiana Jones' Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? I'm saying, there's something especially eerie about trudging over stone age tombs...that may have come from SPACE!? If you want to learn more about these elongated skulls and the mystery behind them, I definitely encourage a visit to this site: https://www.guidememalta.com/en/why-are-these-elongated-skulls-at-hal-saflieni-hypogeum-shrouded-in-mystery
To visit the Hypogeum: https://heritagemalta.mt/explore/hal-saflieni-hypogeum/
Spook factor: 4/5
*To be fair, Hal Saflieni is thought to date to 4000 BC, but we're close. What's 6000 years?
St Paul's Catacombs, Rabat
Not all that dissimilar from what we've seen in Indiana Jones, this Rabat graveyard in Malta houses countless tombs carved in stone - all empty. Hmm. Where did they go?
All alone, my husband and I wandered in the rain to visit the 25 individual crypts dotting the path that made the "discovery trail". This self-guided walk took us along a path of stone and we happened upon a black cat or two just to add to the spook factor. Each of the crypts housed different breeds of people from Malta's past - the Pagans, the Christians, the Jews...Inside the crypts, expect to squeeze through narrow oval doorways to under-lit corridors. Fun for the thin and adventurous, but claustrophobic and exhausting for the rest. An ill-humored husband with creepy cackles in the dark will surely put you on edge in this mausoleum.
To visit: https://heritagemalta.mt/explore/st-pauls-catacombs/ or take a tour, which includes San Anton gardens as well.
Spook Factor: 4/5
Saadians Tombs, Marrakesh
A royal necropolis in the bustling heart of the city, this colorful photographer's dreamscape houses the bodies of dignitaries, sultan's and the like. A visit includes a nice stroll past quintessentially colored blue and green tiles and ornate archways, tourists happily taking their next Instagram campaign shot, and a feeling of stepping into a film set - maybe The Game of Thrones? In any case, this spookless spot is worthy of a visit for the photos alone!
Check out this steal of a tour in Marrakesh, which includes most of the top attractions (including the tombs), and a private guide and driver for the day. Nice.
Spook Factor: 1/5
Necropolis of Ancient Myra
Not to be confused with the Lycans (werewolves famously from the Underworld series), the Lycians were a people beyond the ancient Greco-Roman times, who built this necropolis into the stone face of what is now modern day Antalya, Turkey. Or is it Demre? To be sure, I really don't know. I visited this place many many moons ago and have little memory of it beyond this photo dug out of the dregs of my facebook album storage. In any case, these fascinating rock structures housed the dead of their people and are a must to see if in the area.
Spook Factor: 2/5
Les Catacombes de Paris, Paris
If you are interested in learning a macabre new word today, it's "ossuary".
a container or room in which the bones of dead people are placed.
In this case the maze of tunnels in Paris' underground is a system of ossuaries built out in the most incredibly artistic way. Six million bodies worth of bones are laid to rest in patterned hallways of skeletons.
The sheer amount of people visiting will eliminate one spook factor point, as you can expect to wait in a snaking line for admission on the upper Paris street and also once you get inside in the passages below. Skip the line with a private tour arranged in advance.
Once inside, it's like walking through a haunted house, but the only person who will jump out at you is the French security guard yelling "no flash photos!"
To visit: https://www.catacombes.paris.fr/
Spook Factor: 3/5
Museum of the Mummies of Guanajuato, Guanajuato
With over 100 mummified bodies, this is by far the creepiest thing I've ever laid eyes on, and I have seen the ash covered bodies in Pompeii. These mummies had hair...and skin...and clothes. From 1870 to 1984, these bodies were allegedly excavated from the nearby cemetery, many being former inhabitants of Guanajuato or workers in the mines of the region. Frankly, I don't recall their story. The images are haunting enough and speak for themselves. If you fancy a visit I don't recommend bringing young children or the faint of heart.
To visit: http://www.momiasdeguanajuato.gob.mx/index.html
Spook Factor: 5/5