From the outside, the Royal Church of St. Francis, located in the picturesque Portuguese town of Evora, seems like any other shrine to piety. But looks can be deceiving. Inside is the Capela dos Ossos, or the Chapel of Bones. Short on space to bury the dead, enterprising monks in the 16th century moved the remains of 5,000 corpses into a consecrated chapel—and, like medieval Martha Stewarts, decorated the space with their bones.
Truly Creepy: Two rotted corpses, of an unknown man and a young child, dangle precariously from nooses.
This small and unabashedly lowbrow museum chronicles historical torture methods in displays that are not for the squeamish. Fans of Middle Age brutality can admire the agonizing “skull cracker,” the limb-dislocating rack, and that most efficient of killing machines, the guillotine.
Truly Creepy: The disturbing illustrations include one of a naked man hung from his ankles like a wishbone and being sawed in half lengthwise.
This 19th-century Australian penal colony was once home to thousands of violent convicts sentenced to “hell on earth,” and the dissection rooms here are evidence to that. Awful conditions, vicious floggings and isolation in dark, dank cells led to as many as 2,000 deaths. Tragedy made its comeback in April 1996 when a deranged gunman killed 35 workers and visitors in the country’s worst mass murder to date.
Truly Creepy: The most-often reported ghost sightings are not of convicts but of a crying woman and young child.
This stomach-churning homage to murder, dismemberment, and rigor mortis houses (among other things) a collection of serial killer artwork, photos of horrific accidents and famous crime scenes, and the guillotine-severed head of the murderous Bluebeard of Paris.
Truly Creepy: The self-guided tour takes only an hour, but the truly gore-obsessed can linger over videos of autopsies and actual death footage.
This Guanajuato museum’s 111 remarkably preserved mummies were exhumed from the Santa Paula Pantheon between 1865 and 1989. Their facial expressions are especially scary—many seem to be shouting “No!”—and clenched fists protrude from the tattered clothes. It’s like the prop room for a zombie movie—only real.
Truly Creepy: The tiny baby mummies, dressed in local tradition as “Little Angels.”
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