Whether you’re a ghost hunter, a history buff, or someone who loves architecture, there’s nothing quite like an old church. All of the churches on this list are still in working order as centers of worship or museums.
You can tour the sites, attend mass, see ancient artifacts, or visit on a holy feast day. There’s a mix of Christian denominations featured in these various churches, so check your calendars for special days before you visit. Either way, be prepared for some serious goosebumps because these are some creepy old churches.
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10 Church of Mother of God before Týn, Prague, Czech Republic
Even in daylight the exterior brick and high Gothic spires are intimidating. A vampire would have to live in towers like these. Take a night tour, when the interior is mixed with little more than candlelight, and the place sends chills down your spine. The church dates from the 14th century and the old Baroque designs and altar paintings seem to move in the dim light. Like most old European churches, this one contains burials and tombs, the most notable being the one of astronomer Tycho Brahe.
9 The Borgund Stave Church, Borgund, Norway
The unique architecture of this former church and its location in the middle of a medieval cemetery are chilling and fascinating. The only stone you find here is in the foundation. The building is named for the brilliant design it utilizes, consisting of only wood that’s cut specifically to fit together without nails or stakes.
It seems to have worked well since the building has stood for more than 1000 years. Some sacred accessories remain, like the altar, and the walls are decorated with various engravings of animals and mystical creatures. The decor even includes Norse runes.
8 Norwich Cathedral, Norwich, England
Thousands of curious tourists, many of them keen on paranormal activity, a tour through this ancient church on a regular basis. That won’t keep it from creeping you right out. The mix of imposing Norman, Romanesque and ethereal Gothic architecture is just the first step. The church and surrounding cloisters are almost a thousand years old and they’ve seen a lot of turbulent history. The site is home to various hauntings, some of the former bishops, priests and nuns, others of people who were burned at the stake or ancient Saxons whose homes and temples were razed to make way for the cathedral.
7 St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Key West, Florida
This church only looks so bright and new because it’s been rebuilt so many times. In fact, excavations have determined that the site was once a Seminole burial ground and that’s only the beginning. The land was privately owned by the Fleming family before the church was built, and the land was only granted after the widow was assured her husband’s remains, already interred on the land, would not be disturbed.
Local legend says that promise was broken, and the ghost of John William Charles Fleming still wanders the site. Other apparitions have been reported in the church graveyard, a ghostly group of children who were killed in a fire set by a jealous Deacon who was trying to take revenge on his unfaithful wife.
6 St. Michael’s Chapel, Hallstatt, Austria
This is where you can find the famous Hallstatt Ossuary, which contains the largest collection of painted human skulls on the planet. The view from here is heavenly, complete with mountains and an Alpine lake. This chapel and charnel house date from a time when Catholics had to be buried in the consecrated ground so they could rise from their graves when the end times came. The result was the many graveyards were crowded, and storing bones in an ossuary or using them for religious displays was one way to solve this problem. Enjoy the view as you admire the array of human bones.
5 St. Andrew’s On The Red, Selkirk, Canada
Ancient according to North American standards, St. Andrew’s is the oldest stone church in western Canada. It’s located in a small suburb of Winnipeg and has stood since 1831. It’s location on a lightly forested hill and the Gothic design is rather imposing.
Both the church and graveyard that surrounds it are apparently haunted. Victims of influenza, diphtheria, typhoid and tuberculosis from the early colonial era were some of the first to be interred here and their restless spirits still wander the grounds.
4 St. Michan’s Church, Dublin, Ireland
Before this church was built here in 1095, it was the site of an old Norse Chapel. It was likely a temple of burial site before that. Even in this crowded and modern urban setting, the plain-looking church has some amazing interior features and even more dramatic history.
What makes this church so unique and terrifying is the collection of mummies. The limestone vaults have kept the air dry, creating an ideal environment for preservation. The crypts are filled with dusty coffins and rough stone, a sight to make anyone’s hair stand on end. Don’t miss the Crusader and the 400-year-old nun.
3 The Duomo of Cosenza, Cosenza, Italy
Like many places in this ancient part of Italy, the city’s main cathedral is so old nobody knows exactly when it was built. It was one the first site in Calabria to be awarded UNESCO Heritage status partly for this reason. Consecrated as a cathedral, or Duomo, in 1184, the actual structure is much older than that. If you visit today, you can see the changes in architecture that have taken place over the centuries which is one of the features that makes this church so overwhelming. It blends into the surrounding buildings and seems to hide below them. The low street level is a testament to its advanced age. There are various ancient burials in the church, many of which are on display, such as the bones of the Cathedral’s first priest.
2 Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady, Guadalajara, Mexico
When the sun hits the right angle, it makes the old bricks seem to glow with ethereal orange light. The Spanish Renaissance exterior, framed by Gothic spires, is both romantic and chilling. The interior has impressive neo-Gothic vaults and houses impressive artwork from the late medieval and modern period, which makes the place seem even more otherworldly.
One of the most popular attractions here is the Crypt of the Archbishops. If that doesn’t give you chills, the mummified bodies on display will. There’s one that dates from the 1700s of a child that was killed for converting to Catholicism. Witnesses claim to have seen her eyes blink and watched her hair move.
1 St. Thomas’ Anglican Parish of Mulgoa, New South Wales, Australia
A quaint church that has a striking Gothic Revival design, but its age and location, on a hillside in a semi-rural area, hide a tragic history. Legend has it that two young boys died in a fire in the bell tower after a prank went horribly wrong. Any kind of light, even candles, angers these restless spirits. Reports of strange issues with lights flashing on and off have been reported, even by drivers cruising by apparently having issues with headlights. The surrounding cemetery, filled with monuments that date back 200 years, completes the creepy picture.