Does just the thought of standing in long lines for Europe’s biggest attractions this summer make you sweat? Ditch the crowds and send a chill down your spine instead by visiting Europe’s 10 strangest tourist attractions. You’ll be grateful for sunshine and safety in numbers after checking out some of these spots—that is, if you make it out alive.
2. Gruselkabinett, Berlin, Germany
Berlin’s only permanently opened World War II-era air-raid shelter should be creepy enough on its own. But the Gruselkabinett has tripled the terror level by converting the bunker into three levels of scares. On the top floor, you’ll find a haunted house featuring a bunker maze and costumed actors who pop unexpectedly out of dark corners. The ground floor offers scary mannequins that reenact the amputations and barbaric medical treatments that were performed during the war. Surprisingly, the basement is the least terrifying level, full of historical exhibitions showing what the bunker was like during combat. Want to make sure your kids will never forget your family trip to Berlin (at least not without years of therapy)? The Gruselkabinett also offers birthday parties!
3. Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret, London, England
It’s an operating room from the 1800s located in the attic of a church. The Old Operating Theatre was used as a place for surgeons to demonstrate medical procedures to students. The operating room has been restored with 19th-century furniture and equipment. Climb the stairs to see what operations were like before the time of anesthetics—and if you’re up for it, come during one of the surgical reenactments.
4. Peristal Singum, Berlin, Germany
Everyone must enter the Peristal Singum labyrinth alone. Part art exhibition, part underground maze, the Peristal Singum is disorienting and scary. Start at the Salon Zur Wilden Renate—you’ll buy a ticket to the labyrinth and then be sent to wait until someone comes and brings you to the maze (one at a time). Expect to get completely lost; there’s no staff or directions signs down there—and no one to hear you scream (for directions).
5. Medieval Crime Museum, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
There’s a reason violent behavior is sometimes called “going medieval.” At the Medieval Crime Museum you’ll see gruesome exhibits of torture instruments (including devices used to punish bakers for selling loaves of bread that were too small), execution instruments (such as the wheel, used to crush the convicted to death), and “penalties of honor” (such as the mask of shame).
6. Kunstkamera, St. Petersburg, Russia
The strange collection in this museum was started by Peter the Great in an effort to research deformities and thereby debunk the public’s fear of monsters. What’s housed here may not be monsters, but it’s still scary. You’ll find many strange specimens, including a skeleton of conjoined twins, a child’s preserved arm, and a small intestine floating in a glass jar. Can’t make it all the way to Russia for this? You can check out the disturbing collection online.
7. Capuchin Catacombs, Palermo, Italy
Being trapped in these catacombs is our new number-one nightmare. In 1599, monks at the Capuchin monastery discovered that the body of one of their own put to rest in the catacombs had become naturally mummified. Soon, the catacombs were the new hot spot where people were just dying to be interred. Bodies were dressed in their finest outfits and posed in the catacombs. Now there are about 8,000 well-preserved mummies lining the walls and waiting for the zombie apocalypse to begin. Sorry, Instagramers—iron bars have been put in front of the bodies so that visitors can’t touch or pose with the corpses.
8. Edinburgh Vaults, Edinburgh, Scotland
The Edinburgh Vaults have been called “probably the most haunted place in Britain,” which would make sense: It’s rumored that these underground chambers were used as everything from brothels to serial killers’ hunting grounds for victims. You can tour them, but be prepared—many people have reported seeing the ghost of a faceless man who gives off an “evil presence” (probably because he has no face and can’t smile at visitors).
9. Galleries of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy, Paris, France
Thousands of skeletons await at these galleries inside the Museum National D’Histoire Naturelle. If giant whale and mastodon bones aren’t freaky enough for you, be sure to check out the Cabinets of Curiosity. Inside, you’ll find brains and other animal organs lovingly preserved for your entertainment.
10. Dennis Severs’ House, London, England
Feel like an intruder in someone’s private home with a visit to Dennis Severs’ House. It’s designed as a living museum in which visitors feel like they’ve just missed the home’s inhabitants. Each of the 10 rooms in this old house (built in 1724) recreate what it would have been like to live here in different eras of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. You’ll see burning candles and uneaten meals, and you’ll even hear voices.
11. Electric Ladyland: The First Museum Of Fluorescent Art, Amsterdam
Any museum that requires you to take off your shoes and don special slippers before descending downstairs is a little strange, right? But what else would you expect from a museum named Electric Ladyland after Jimi Hendrix’s final album? Owned by Nick Padalino, this museum showcases his love of all things fluorescent—from stones and minerals to ordinary artwork that bursts into color under UV light. Stop by a coffee shop before coming here to make this museum even more trippy.
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