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Top Travel Destinations With a Dark Past

by | Ideas

Mar 30, 2022

If you—the strange and the awesome—are looking for unique travel destinations with dark past to visit, you’ve come to just the right place. We’ve got the round-up of all the sites with a dark past to visit on your next holiday.

These travel bucket lists should be the next destinations for anyone who likes history and adventure. Picking the best places to visit during your vacation can sometimes be challenging. So much history and so little time to see everything your mind craves for. 

Whether looking through a brochure or browsing the internet, it will always be a tough choice for some people. So I am presenting you with some travel destinations with dark history you might or might not know before now.  

1. Auschwitz Concentration Camp 

Travel Destinations with dark past - auschwitz concentration camp

Auschwitz concentration camp is located in southern Poland. A great addition to your travel bucket list in case you have run out of ideas of places to go. 

A record 2.15 million people visited the camp in 2018. It was originally a barracks for the Polish army before Germany invaded and occupied Poland during World War II. 

In May 1940, the barrack was converted into a prison. Most of the first prisoners were Polish and Soviets, and they were regarded as political prisoners. 

Compared to the other Nazi camps, Auschwitz was the largest, with three main camps. There is a prison camp, an extermination camp, and a slave-labor camp.

Auschwitz was probably the most notorious. As the name implies, the death camps were mainly for killing, and most of their victims were the Jews and other people who were deemed undesirables.

Auschwitz is always remembered as the “Holocaust,” as almost one million Jews died here. About 1.1 million people died out of the 1.3 million people that arrived in these camps. Giant gas chambers were built and used to murder hundreds of thousands of people. The bodies were burned using crematoria. 

The gas chambers were functional until November 1944. By January 1945, as the coalition had the upper hand during the war, the Soviets army entered Krakow, leaving Auschwitz abandoned. 

The German soldiers ordered the remaining prisoners to march to the Polish towns of Gliwice or Wodzisław, some 30 miles away. 

An estimate of about 60,000 prisoners went through what is known as the Auschwitz death marches, with countless numbers dying on the way. 

2. The Memorial Hall of the Nanjing Massacre 

This hall was built to remember the victims of the war crimes committed in this region by Japanese soldiers in December 1937, just before the second world war. 

The hall was constructed in 1985 and was later extended in 1995 by the Chinese local government of the region. It’s located in Jiangdongmen and covers 28,000 square meters. 

It is one of the execution sites and mass burial places popularly known as the Mass Grave of 10,000 Corpses.

The victims of about 300,000 were both civilians and unarmed Chinese soldiers. Common civilians were beheaded. Some were buried alive, while others were burnt. Women and children were not spared. 

More than 20,000 women were reportedly raped, and some of them were later killed. 

The halls portray the atrocities committed by using architecture, sculptures, and video illustrations with historical records and objects. Two marble walls in the hall are engraved with the names of the 300,000 victims, and a monument in the yard had the dates of the event also engraved on it, ‘1937.12.13 – 1938.1’ it showed. 

This hall sure reminds us of the need for peace in human society. Be sure to include it on your travel bucket list. 

3. The Colosseum or Coliseum

Travel Destinations With a Dark Past

The Coliseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an oval-shaped amphitheater in the center of Rome, Italy. The Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty presented it as a gift to the Roman people. It was commissioned around A.D. 70-72. 

It became the biggest theatre in the world at the time of its completion. Holds around 50,000 to 80,000 spectators. Built with the finest material of the era. The theatre was absolutely well ahead of its time.

Generally, it was used to host a variety of events by the Elites and the State. One of its dark stories seems popular; “The Gladiator” games where men fight to the death for sports, some forced, others for glory. Fight against wild animals and condemned criminals or even enslaved people and others who were considered undesirables were staged here.

In addition to that, another of its dark stories was its use during the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. 

Those who refused to renounce their faith or join in the state-approved religion would be exposed in the arena to a variety of wild and ferocious animals such as leopards, bears, lions. They will be asked to fight for their survival. If the Colosseum or Coliseum is not yet part of your travel bucket list, you are definitely missing out.

4. Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima 

peace memorial park hiroshima

Peace memorial park is the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack and it is a picture of Hiroshima’s unique past. . The park is one of the top travel destinations with a dark past you should add to your bucket list. 

The site is dedicated to the legacy of Hiroshima as the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack. And also to the memories of the victims of the bomb explosion. 

It’s one of the city’s most prominent features, and it is located in downtown Hiroshima. This large park covers 120,000 square meters.  

Three Notably Features of the Park 

  • Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims, also known as the Memorial Monument for Hiroshima, consists of an arch that acts as the roof and a stone chest beneath. Inside the chest is a record of the names of all the victims of the atomic bombing. The Cenotaph contains the words, “Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil.”
  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum preserves and presents an accurate picture of the atomic attack. The main building tells the story of what happened on August 6, 1945, through the exhibits of items belonging to the victims.
  • A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the A-Bomb Dome is one of the few buildings to remain standing after the bomb explosion and still stands today.

5. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum 

This travel destination with a dark past is also known as the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. It was both a memorial and museum located in New York City. It was built to remember the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, which resulted in the death of 2,977 people and also the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which had killed six casualties. 

The 9/11 Memorial Museum is regarded as America’s principal institution for examining what happened on September 11, 2001. It aims to document the impacts and explore the continuing effect of the 9/11 attacks. 

A dedication ceremony remembering the tenth anniversary of the attacks was held at the memorial on September 11, 2011. The museum was opened to everyone on May 21, while the museum was dedicated on May 15, 2014, with speeches from Michael Bloomberg and the then President of America, Barack Obama. 

Also, the memorial is made up of two reflecting pools set in the footprints of the “Twin Towers.” You will find the victims’ names inscribed in bronze around the pools. 

6. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum 


Searching for something new to check out? Another travel bucket list with a dark past is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. You will find this museum with a dark past in the capital of Cambodia, the city of Phnom Penh. It symbolizes the Cambodian genocide. 

Initially, this prison site was a secondary school: “Tuol Svay Prey High School.” It is on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. After the Khmer Rouge regime rose to power in 1975, the school name was changed to S-21. 

They used it for torture, interrogation, and execution center in 1976. Although the actual number is unknown, an estimate of 20,000 people was imprisoned at Tuol Sleng from 1976 to 1979. Only seven were said to have survived.

The S-21 Prison is popularly known as the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide. The interrogation rooms had only a school desk and chair directly opposite a steel bed frame with shackles at each end. Swollen, decomposing bodies handcuffed to bed frames with pools of wet blood underneath was what welcomed the first discoverers of S-21 in January of 1979. 

Records of carefully taken photographs of the majority of the inmates and photographic archives were kept. Although the most gruesome images discovered were those of the mass graves taken by the Khmer Rouge at S-21. 6,000 S-21 pictures that have been recovered reveal a story of shock, confusion, resignation, defiance, and horror. 

7. Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was among the sites of the Mumbai attacks in 2008. The hotel, which symbolizes the prosperity, wealth, and progress of the Indian people, was targeted in the 2008 terror attacks. 

Approximately 31 people were killed in an eventful four-day siege. About 450 guests were staying in the Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel at the time of the seizure. 

The attack, which shocked the world, was widely condemned by political leaders worldwide. The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel reopened fully on August 15, 2010, which is India’s Independence Day showing the solidarity of its people. 

The Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel remain the pride and symbol of the strength of India’s people and resolve. Visitors from all over the world make it part of their travel bucket list.

Photo by Shai Pal on Unsplash

By Daniels Nanna

Nanna Daniels is a legal practitioner and writer. His practice as a lawyer and a writer is as diverse as his client base. His client ranges from government bodies to banks, private companies in real estate, energy companies, telecommunications to small businesses, families, and individuals. He is a passionate and diligent analyst of family, sports and business concepts, providing in-depth knowledge and analysis. He has covered topics ranging from family, parenting to entrepreneurship.

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