Dark tourism

Not many people have heard of Grutas Park in Lithuania. Even if you call it by its more popular nickname, Stalin World, it is still comparatively unknown. But the existence of Stalin World shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

The world is full of places that are often tacky, sometimes weird and almost always in slightly dubious taste. There are Jack the Ripper tours around London, the celebration of blood and guts at the Colosseum in Rome, while at the Titan Missile Museum in Arizona, the tour ends in the control room, where the group goes through the sequence of steps necessary to launch a nuclear bomb. One lucky member of the group, then has the privilege of pressing the big red button.

Titan missile museum


Image by vaxomatic

Tucson, Arizona proudly presents ‘the only ICBM site in the world with a Titan II missile in the launch silo’. Wow! Step back into the ’60s at this dinosaur of the Cold War and press the big red button yourself.

Père Lachaise


Image by Aschaf

Not many cemeteries have their own website and not many graves have their own security guard. But Jim Morrison’s grave at Père Lachaise does. Actually, it’s pretty grotty, so check out those of Maria Callas, Oscar Wilde or Chopin instead.

Grutas Park


Image by martijn.munneke

Relive the suffering of a gulag at the Soviet oppression theme park of Stalin World in Lithuania.

Colosseum


Image by David Hamster

In one 117-day killing spree at the Colosseum, Roman Emperor Trajan pitted 9,000 gladiators and 10,000 animals against each other. That’s got to get him a big thumbs down.

Colditz


Image by cookipediachef

Head to Colditz and enjoy your visit. The most infamous POW camp in Germany is now a hostel.

Sixth floor museum


Image by hccheng

Relive every minute of JFK’s final journey through Dealey Plaza in Dallas at the Sixth Floor Museum. You can’t look out of the exact window Oswald used, but you can go to the same spot on the floor above and see for yourself if the shot was really possible.

Jack the Ripper Tours


Image by jaybergesen

Follow a trail of bloody murders through the streets of Victorian London. For maximum effect, book in winter when the streets will be dark and, if you’re really lucky, foggy.

Vilnius KGB prison


Image by thekirbster

Guides are always good, but as you look round the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, Lithuania, you might notice your guide seems to know more than you’d expect. He should – he’s a former inmate.

See also our list of famous memorials.