What is common between a nuclear disaster in Ukraine, beaches in France that’ve seen bloodshed, and an infamous broken building in Hiroshima, Japan? Apart from being scenes of disasters and tragedies, these places are among some popular dark tourism destinations. Dark tourism, also known as grief tourism, is the trendiest travel concept in 2019. The idea is to travel to places that are associated with dark chapters of history like grim tragedies and severe loss of life. These destinations may not be Instagram worthy places but nevertheless has deep significance in our planet’s history.
So, if you’re tired of the conventional tourist spots, are looking out for meaningful travel experiences and are appealed by the “dark side”, then, make it a point to visit some of these dark tourism sites we’ve listed, and learn about humanity’s darkest hours, costly mistakes, and tragedies.
“Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”
5 Must-Visit Dark Tourism Destinations in the World
1. Chernobyl (Ukraine): World’s first nuclear disaster!
On 26th April 1986 around 01:23:40 hours the No.4 nuclear reactor of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded. The explosion left the nuclear reactor’s core exposed, which continued to spew deadly radiations all over Eastern Europe. The nearby towns of Chernobyl and Pripyat were evacuated and till date remains uninhabitable. It took 18 billion roubles, 3-years and 500,000 workers to fully control the greatest ecological disaster.
Today, the city of Pripyat and Chernobyl in Ukraine lie desolate and are slowly getting consumed by nature. It looks like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie. Chernobyl gained a massive fan-following as a dark tourism destination following the success of critically acclaimed HBO TV series – Chernobyl and is now drawing plenty of visitors. Located just a 2-hours drive away from Kiev, Ukraine, there are plenty of tour operators that take visitors on guided tours of Chernobyl and Pripyat.
2. 9/11 Memorial (New York, USA): Deadliest terrorist attack!
September 11, 2001. The date when the world’s greatest terrorist act unfolded in front of millions of TV sets, leaving the world shocked. America’s pride – the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York, collapsed after hijacked passenger planes crashed into the towers. As images of the events were beamed all over the world, first emergency responders struggled to save lives. That ill-fated day, 2977 people lost their lives as the world stares a new challenge to security and stability in the 21st century.
Today, the 9/11 Memorial Museum stands at the same site once where the twin towers stood. The museum is also known as the Ground Zero and documents the tragedies, victims, brave emergency responders, investigations, and recovery efforts. 9/11 Memorial Museum is one of the popular attractions of New York that stands as a grim reminder of the world’s greatest terrorist attack. Do visit the site and learn more about the events associated with September 11 2001.
3. Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial (Poland): Murder of 1.1 million people!
World War II is known for its brutal tragedies and tales of widespread deaths and devastation. However, the tale of Auschwitz – Birkenau is one that surpassed all the stories of World War II. Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland served as a German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp where over 1.1 million innocent civilians were systematically killed in a gruesome fashion in gas chambers. One of the most ill-fated residents of the camp was Anne Frank (author of The Diary of Young Girl).
Today, Auschwitz – Birkenau is a UNESCO protected World Heritage Site which now serves as a grim reminder of Adolf Hitler’s infamous policy called “The Final Solution”, which attempted to wipe out Jews, Romani, Poles, Soviet prisoners of war. Today, the museum is an important Holocaust research centre and draws over a million visitors each year.
4. D-Day Beaches, (France): Decisive campaign in Europe with a huge cost
6 June 1944, Tuesday: the US and allied forces launch the world’s biggest amphibious invasion that turned the Second World War. Code-named as Operation Neptune, the US and allied forces conducted the largest seaborne invasion of Europe. The allies choose the beaches of Normandy. The USA launched sea-borne invasions of Utah and Omaha beaches while combine forces of UK and Canada attacked the beaches of Gold, Juno, and Sword. However, their opponent – Nazi Germany were equally prepared and well-defended in concrete bunkers and wired-trenches. What happened next is bloodshed at an unparalleled level.
The sea and soil turned red with blood, heavy artillery and machine-gun fire slashed bodies, ripping limbs and intestines. The D-Day landings resulted in over 10,000 plus casualties out of which there were 4,414 confirmed deaths on US and allied side while Nazi Germany suffered between 4,000 – 9,000 casualties. Today, the D-Day beaches are serene and the only symbol of bloodshed are the well-maintained memorials and graveyards – which draws millions of visitors.
5. Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Japan): A stark reminder of a nuclear holocaust
6 August 1945, America stunned the world by dropping an atom bomb called Fat Boy on Hiroshima, Japan. The device containing 64 kg of Uranium 235 was released from an American bomber B-29 and it blasted over Shima Surgical Clinic. The resultant blast was equal to 16 kilotons of TNT and a brilliant flash of white light followed by a huge sound wave. The firestorm and mushrooming cloud killed thousands of citizens and destroyed buildings in an area comprising 4.7 square miles. Over 20,000 soldiers and between 70,000 to 1,26,000 civilians died in the explosion.
Today, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial comprises of the collapsed dome of Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. The Genbaku Dome is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and stands as a stark reminder of the potential devastation of the world by even more powerful nuclear devices.
READ MORE: Ghostly Abandoned Towns Around The World!