We showed you five of the scariest portals to the underworld last week, but we’ve got five more mysterious gateways for your final destination getaway.
FENGDU GHOST CITY, Chongqing, CHINA
This large complex of temples and shrines dedicated to the afterlife is located along the Ming mountain, about 100 miles downstream from Chongqing on the Yangtze River. Dating back nearly 2,000 years, the site has now become a tourist attraction, as people can take a boat, then an open-air escalator up to the temples, where many of the temples show shrines, paintings, and sculptures of people being tortured for their sins. Must be a blast, huh? Combining Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, the Ghost City earned its name long ago, when two imperial officials—Yin and Wang—came to practice Taoism and became immortal. When combined, their names are translated to “King of Hell.”
PATRICK’S PURGATORY, County Donegal, IRELAND
This ancient pilgrimage site on Station Island, Ireland, is legendary because it is the place where, in the fifth century, Jesus supposedly told St. Patrick there was a cave that led to Purgatory. It has been located on maps since the 12th century and seems to have held importance ever since. As the story goes, St. Patrick, sad because his followers doubted him and wanted to see proof of his teachings, prayed to God. Christ then showed him the entrance to Purgatory as proof, which he could then show to his own followers. The cave has always been associated with healing and spiritual powers, as it acts as a natural sauna.
HOUSKA CASTLE, Blatce, CZECH REPUBLIC
Built just north of Prague in the 13th century, this early Gothic castle is notable because of what lies underneath it. Its chapel was built over a large hole in the ground, which was called a “gateway to Hell” — allegedly so deep that no one could see the bottom. Apparently, the things that crawled out of the hole were the stuff of nightmares: half-human, half-lizards, as well as things that looked like flying dragons. In fact, the castle was actually constructed to keep all the monsters inside. Legend has it, prisoners were brought in to be lowered into the hole just to see what was down there, and the first man screamed so much he was hauled back up, where he looked like he’d aged 30 years.
CAVE OF THE SIBYL, Monte Di Cuma, ITALY
This story comes from the Aeneid, penned by the legendary Roman poet Virgil in 19 BC. It chronicles the adventures of the Trojan warrior Aeneas, who happens upon a fortune teller, or Sibyl, in a cave in what is now known as Naples, Italy. In the story, the Sibyl guides Aeneas through the Underworld. But it was not the first time the site had been referred to as an opening to Hell. Nor would it be the last. The Sibyl and the cave also appeared in, among other places, the works of Ovid, in Dante’s Inferno, in Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and in T.S. Elliott’s poetry. In 1932, archaeologist Amedeo Maiuri found the cave, which cemented the folkloric status of southern Italy with the mythical Underworld.
ROOM 428, WILSON HALL, OHIO UNIVERSITY, Athens, OHIO
Why is room 428 in Ohio University’s Wilson Hall now sealed off to students? Is it because, as school officials say, it is uninhabitable for the pupils? Is it because a former student practiced the occult there? Is it because another student took her own life there? Or is it because it sits right in the middle of a pentagram between five other cemeteries, making it a portal to Hell? Maybe it’s a combination of all, as the pretty Ohio campus seems to be nestled right in the middle of Spooky Central. Long thought to be one of America’s most haunted campuses, few students graduate from Ohio U. without a creepy story.
By Ryan Clark, contributor for Ripleys.com