“Dark tourism is the academic name we give to sites that commemorate and remember disasters and atrocities. The common denominator is the fact that people died there in unnatural situations,” said Peter Stone, head of the Institute for Research Dark Tourism. The phenomenon is getting more and more popular every year, as tourists are more eager to visit these sites. There are many ethical questions surrounding the issue as well as the fear of a certain commercialization of these disaster destinations by individuals. Nevertheless, Tourism-Review.com presents a list of the top 7 dark tourism destinations.
Auschwitz was one of the largest German concentration camps during World War 2. People from all over Europe were deported to this labor camp. 90% of all those were Jews and an estimated 1.1 to 1.5 million were murdered there. As such, the camp is still one of the best known dark tourism destinations in the world. Today, it is possible to freely access the whole complex, including the insides of the “huts” in which the prisoners were kept. The most shocking and intense moments, from experiences of visitors, are those when observing the masses of hair and nails of the victims.
Another well-known dark tourism destination is Chernobyl in Ukraine. In 1986, an explosion tore through reactor 4 of the power plant and produced the worst nuclear accident in the history of mankind. The explosion created a restricted area of 30 kilometers around the plant, where tour firms organize trips. Many people are expressing their interest in this destination and 36,000 people visited it in 2016.
Located in southern Italy, in 79 AD the volcano Vesuvius erupted and the whole ancient city of Pompeii was destroyed. The “exciting” thing about it is that the lava as completely “petrified” the city. Pompeii was uncovered by archaeologists and the ruins – including the fossilized bodies – can be visited and observed there today.
During World War 2, after testing nuclear weapons in Bikini Atoll, the USA’s real target was Japan, which later resulted in an attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In total, from 120 to 226 thousand people died in both cities as a result of the atomic bomb dropping. Among others one building was hit. It was completely burned out and all people died there. Today, it is known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial or is just called the atomic bomb dome.
One of the most famous dark tourism destinations is in New York. Since the terrorist attack on September 11, 2011, numerous monuments, museums etc. were built. Countless tourists visit these places when they are in the city. Many times, people do not even realize, but even this is a destination that fits the definition of dark tourism.
The so-called killing fields are about 300 places in Cambodia where mass murders were committed. Here, under the order of Cambodian dictator Pol Pot, more than 100,000 people were killed. One of the most famous killing fields is Choeung Ek. From 1975 to 1979 over 17 thousand people were killed there. At the memorial, you can look at a showcase of more than 5,000 skulls of some of the casualties.
Bikini Atoll is an archipelago in the Pacific which belongs to the Marshall Islands. After World War 2, the USA made nuclear weapon tests in the areas. The people had to leave their homeland and were relocated to an uninhabited island, assuming that they could return to their island later. However, the US made the tests so blatant that the island was completely contaminated, and the inhabitants could never return. In front of the island there are still two wrecks of Japanese warships. It is possible to dive in these wrecks today.