An unexpected figure might take up residence in the White House soon. He is tall, lanky, transparent and has been dead for over 150 years.
The ghost of Abraham Lincoln has been spotted within the White House during the nation's most tumultuous times. He was first reported by Grace Coolidge, the wife of Calvin Coolidge, who claims she saw the assassinated president staring out of the window of the Oval Office towards former Civil War battlegrounds. Since then, generations of visitors to the White House have claimed to see the Great Emancipator walking the halls.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill allegedly strolled into the Lincoln Bedroom, naked with a cigar after a bath in the Lincoln Bedroom when he locked eyes with the former president, who then smiled and faded into the walls.
President Reagan reportedly told a group of White House dinner guests that his daughter and her husband were staying in the Lincoln Bedroom, and on two separate occasions, they saw a transparent figure standing at the bedroom window looking out.
And Lincoln isn't the only otherworldly spirit in the White House -- Dolley Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Abigail Adams and Andrew Jackson have all been spotted in their former residence.
While the White House could certainly be considered the United States' most famous haunted house, it is hardly the only building with famous otherworldly guests.
Despite cultural and language barriers, nations across the world are connected by their belief in the supernatural –- specifically spirits trapped on Earth.
From the Italian island where thousand succumbed to the plague, to a Jamaican colonial home stalked by a murderous former mistress of the mansion, here are the most infamous 'haunted' places around the world.
World's most haunted places
World's most haunted places
Tower of London, England
The Tower of London was constructed in 1078, and its lengthy history makes it a prime target for ghostly activity. King Henry VI is said to rise every year on the anniversary of his murder on May 21st and pace fitfully near where he was stabbed in back while kneeling in prayer in 1471.
Richard III seized the crown and imprisoned his two nephews in 1483. They disappeared and nearly 200 years later the skeletons of the two boys were found buried under the tower steps. Two little boys dressed in white shirts have been spotted in the halls, playing or crying before fading away.
Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey have reportedly been spotted wandering near the places where they were beheaded. Lady Arabella has also been spotted near the Queen’s House as recently as 2013 when a teen claims to have caught her spirit on camera.
There have even been reports of spirits including a ghostly polar bear, Henry VIII’s possessed armor, a weeping man, an elderly countess in the process of being hacked up, and more.
Castle of Good Hope, South Africa
South Africa’s oldest colonial building, the Castle of Good Hope, was built near the sea so water would flood through the dungeon, drowning convicts chained to the walls. Workers have reported hearing voices and footsteps in the windowless halls.
The castle bell rings on its own from time to time, despite being walled up centuries ago after a solider hung himself with the bell rope. A large black hound stalks the castle grounds, leaping at guests then vanishing.
Lady Anne Barnard’s drawing room has a cursed painting of peacocks that is said to kill anyone who moves it. Her spirit appears at the Dolphin Pool where she used to bathe naked.
Tat Tak School, Hong Kong
The Tat Tak School in Hong Kong was featured in episode one of National Geographic's 2013 Asia TV series, "I Wouldn't Go In There," and it sounds like it is for good reason.
According to HK Magazine, the troubles started in 1898 when nearby villages rose against the British because they didn’t want to give up their land rights. They were defeated and those who died were buried at the school’s future site. Years later, a teacher who was raped hung herself in a bathroom. The land was abandoned and her longhaired ghost is said to haunt the land.
Some cabbies refuse to take the road that leads to the school.
Pelabuhan Ratu, Indonesia
The legendary Nyai Loro Kidul flung herself into the waves from the the Karang Hawu cliff in an effort to restore her beauty, which had been ruined by black magic. Instead of dying, she turned into a sea goddess who haunts the bay, preying on swimmers who wear green – her favorite color. Room 308 at the Samudra Beach Hotel is always left vacant for the queen.
Palace of Linares, Spain
The Neo-Baroque palace in Madrid was built by José de Murga for himself and his wife. He found out years later that his wife was actually his half-sister. The pope at the time issued a bill that allowed them to live together but in chastity. Before knowing they were related, the family had a baby girl, but she was given to an orphanage to safe guard the family’s reputation. The daughter’s ghost is said to haunt the palace from time to time, crying for her lost mommy.
Old Changi Hospital, Singapore
The Old Changi Hospital was first used as a military base by British forces, then as prisoner of war camp by the Japanese during WWII. Eventually, it was converted back to a hospital, but was abandoned in 1997 when local hospitals merged. Stories about ghosts spread like wildfire thanks to rumors that some rooms of the hospital were used a torture chambers, but sources were never confirmed.
Lawang Sewu, Indonesia
In another episode of National Geographic’s ‘I Wouldn't Go In There,’ the show visits one of Indonesia’s most notorious buildings, Lawang Sewu. The grand building, built by the Dutch in the mid 19th century, is abandoned and dilapidated. There are tales of headless ghosts and a young Dutch woman who killed herself wandering the halls. It it rumored that the Japanese using the building at the end of WWII to torture Indonesian troops.
Castle Moosham, Austria
Witch hysteria spread beyond Salem. From 1675 to 1690, The Moosham Castle served as the torture site for the Salzburg Witch Trials. Thousands were accused of witchcraft and the accusers would force confessions by cutting off victims' hands or branding them. Ultimately, over 100 people were killed, mostly people under the age of 21.
There were also allegedly werewolves stalking the castle and killing cattle in the 1800s.
Fairmonth Banff Springs hotel, Canada
The stunning Alberta hotel is rich in spooky stories. According to Canadian Living, there are two famous permanent residents. Sam the bellman was a longtime employee who died in 1975. Guests have reported a Scottish man in outdated clothing helping them out despite no one on staff matching that description.
Guests have also reported seeing the ‘doomed bride’ dancing in her gown in the ballroom. The hotel’s former historian said the woman fell down a stone staircase to her death at the beginning of her wedding banquet.
The Aokigahara at the base of Mount Fuji is well known throughout the world for being the second most popular place to commit suicide (the Golden Gate Bridge being number one). At least 105 bodies were found in the woods in 2003, but there are thought to be many more since Japanese authorities discontinued publishing exact suicide numbers in order to avoid making the place even more popular.
There are stories that the forest was originally where individuals left their elderly or sick relatives to die and their spirits haunt the area.
Bhangarh Fort of Rajasthan, India
This fort is considered India’s most haunted place. According to folklore, the fort is home to ghosts and that is why tourists cannot visit after the sun goes down. People report hearing women crying and the sound of bangles.
Monte Cristo Homestead, Australia
The home dubbed ‘Australia’s Most Haunted House’ has had one sinister event take place on its grounds after another. The Victorian house’s original owners, Christopher and Elizabeth Crawley, are believed to have haunted the home for over 80 years. There are tales of a pregnant maid jumping to her death from second story and a young girl being ‘pushed’ out of a nanny’s arms and down the stairs. A boy was burned alive in the stables and a youth obsessed with ‘Psycho’ fatally shot the gardener.
Shadowy figures have been caught in pictures taken by visitors and some insist they were touched by unseen people.
Rose Hall, Jamaica
Locals believe that the colonial mansion has been haunted for decades by Annie Palmer, or the White Witch. The 18-year-old English woman was supposed to be an expert at voodoo and used it to murder three husbands and countless slave lovers during the time years she lived at the estate. Some say she was driven insane by the lead dishes she ate off of everyday. Annie allegedly died at the hands of a lover who tried to bury her in a grave protected with spells, but they were not performed correctly so countless people have claimed to have seen her soul wandering about.
The White House, Washington, D.C.
The most well-known address in America is also home to some of the most famous ghosts. First lady Abigail Adams’ spirit can be spotted in a cap and shawl walking to the East Room where she used to do her laundry.
Mary Todd Lincoln told friends she heard President Andrew Jackson’s ghost stomping and swearing through the halls.
The most frequently seen ghost in the White House is Abraham Lincoln. Grace Coolidge, President Coolidge’s wife, swears she saw Lincoln staring out of window in the Oval Office. Lady Bird Johnson felt Lincoln’s presence, as did Eleanor Roosevelt.
Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands reportedly was staying in the White House in 1942 when she heard a knock at the door, and upon answering it, she screamed and fainted after seeing Lincoln in a coat and top hat.
Winston Churchill emerged from a bath in the White House and walked into the adjoining room naked with a cigar when he saw Lincoln at the fireplace. He and Lincoln reportedly locked eyes and said ‘Good evening, Mr. President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage." Lincoln’s ghost supposedly smiled and faded away. Churchill refused to stay in Lincoln Bedroom after that.
President Reagan said that his daughter Maureen and her husband were staying in the Lincoln Bedroom, and on two separate occasions saw a transparent figure standing at the bedroom window looking out.
Chateau de Brissac, France
The tallest castle in France is home to a grisly double murder that resulted in a famous ghost, the ‘Green Lady.’ Sometime in the 15th century, Jacques de Brézé saw his wife with her lover, and, in a fit of rage, he murdered both of them. The castle’s current residents are apparently used to seeing the Green Lady roaming the castle and moaning wearing a green gown, but guests get spooked. The ghost is supposed to have holes in place of her nose and eyes.
Island of the Dolls, Xochimilco, Mexico
Legend has it that years ago, a man found a dead girl and her toy near the island's waters. He spent his life decorating the piece of land with dolls and believed they were possessed by the little girl’s spirit. Locals claim to hear whispers from the dolls and myths say they come alive at night.
The twisted history of the little island half a mile away from Venice makes it a no-go zone. The fortification was built by the Venetian government and used for bubonic plague quarantine in 1340 and again when the Black Death arrived in 1630. It hosted over 160,000 infected people. There are rumors that the soil is made up of human remains. Napoleon used the island’s terrifying past to hide stores of weapons.
In the late 1800s, a mental hospital opened on the island. One doctor allegedly tortured and killed patients before falling to his death from a bell tower. The facility was converted into a geriatric center in the mid-20th century before falling out of use.
The Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Kentucky
The Waverly Hills Sanatorium was the last stop for many suffering from tuberculosis. Dying slowly without help made many people go crazy. Echoes can be heard in “the death tunnel,” a discrete body chute to dispose of the dead. A thing called “The Creeper” moves quickly through corridors and climbs walls like a spider. It is thought to be the very essence of evil.
In its 100 years of operating, the Moundsville Penitentiary in West Virginia killed over 1,000 criminals. The cramped spaces led to deadly riots, and even though the prison closed down in 1995, there are still reports of tourists hearing tortured spirits.
Gettysburg College students frequently report seeing men dressed in Civil War uniforms standing in their dorm rooms, then suddenly vanishing.
It isn’t just students though. In his book Haunted Pennsylvania, author Mark Nesbitt wrote that in the 1980s, two staff members rode the library elevator into the basement by accident where they saw a silent bloody civil war operating room. They quickly closed the elevator door when the ghostly surgeons beckoned them to help. When they went to get help from a security guard, the scene had disappeared.