In dark tourism, travelers visit locations that once witnessed certain dark events which can be either natural disasters or human accidents. With such cultural and historical values, these places contribute to building the connection between the visitors and the destination in a very special way.
Most countries have their own history and landmarks; however, not every landmark will be promoted for dark tourism. The places and sites that can be developed into dark tourist destinations are usually the places of worship for commemoration/remembrance, the reconstructed monuments or the desolate places away from the city center. However diverse they are, all have their own special appeal to lure dark tourists.
1. Pompeii, Italy
Lying at the foot of the stratovolcano Vesuvius, the ruined city of Pompeii is a relic that had been covered in volcanic ash and pumice rock since the eruption of Mount Vesuvius 79 AD by the time it was re-excavated in the 19th century. In addition to being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this place is also considered the oldest dark tourist destination with a history of more than 1,700 years old.
This one of the most historically significant architectural sites on Earth still upholds unique features of the Roman era through its gates, temples, basilica, etc. to help visitors imagine vividly the lives of ten tribes at that time.
Although buried underground without air and humidity for thousands of years, the bodies of petrified people, relics and fossils remain intact over time as the pyroclastic flow of the volcano became the perfect preserving of all imprints of people and ancient buildings. Visitors can even see the stunning mosaic carved on the temples here.
Since re-discovered and becoming a dark tourist attraction in the European Grand Tour, Pompeii is slowly degrading, which forces the local authorities and the European Union to work even harder to restore the city of historical values.
2. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Japan
Located on the banks of the Motoyasu River, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan will forever be associated with the terrible power of science – the atomic bombing of World War II. In addition, the park is a part of the complex of 16 memorial monuments across Hiroshima, turning the whole city into a location of grief. All of these memorial sites are also the main reason why most visitors travel to Hiroshima.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a reminder for people to appreciate the peace we have today after the devastating ravages of the nuclear war. Many visitors choose to visit the park on August 6 as this was the day the bombing took place and also the day the park holds the annual Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Currently, visitors have quite diverse options to travel within the city, from walking to cycling and driving.
3. Chernobyl, Ukraine
Chernobyl is a famous place in Ukraine that is associated with the worst nuclear accident in the history of the Chernobyl disaster, the explosion of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986. The explosion caused radiation to spread to an area of about 2,600 square kilometers.
The level of radioactivity remains fairly high at the moment, which makes the whole town uninhabitable for another 20,000 years. However, tourists still flock here every year to contemplate what is left after this heartbreaking event. Especially with HBO’s critically acclaimed drama in 2019, Chernobyl recorded the number of visitors soaring.
The activities currently organized here include day tours to Chernobyl and a two-day-one-night tour to Chernobyl and the desolate town of Pripyat, which is next to Chernobyl, to experience a real-time “ghost town”.
4. National September 11 Memorial & Museum, USA
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is a memorial to the victims of a terrorist attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York (now known as Ground Zero).
The complex consists of 4 high-rise buildings, a museum and memorial area, a central station and a performing arts center. The most important part of the project is two large pools built on where the North and South towers of the WTC twin towers once stood before being destroyed. On the parapets of the memorial pools engraved the names of 2,983 victims, comprising 2,977 killed in the September 11 attack and six killed in the 1993 WTC bombing.
Inaugurated on September 11, 2011 – exactly ten years after the terrorism, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum has welcomed more than 10 million visitors within briefly two years of opening. This complex reflects a historical terrorist incident, and also becomes the attraction for those visiting New York to commemorate and understand more about a dark stage of American history.