Dark Tourism BLOG
This page is intended to provide a more flexible and also more interactive element to dark-tourism.com, which is otherwise more static (more like an encyclopedia). The idea came about after the DT page I used to curate on Facebook was suddenly shut down by the company (full story here). So I’m continuing here – with regular blog posts, either featuring particular dark-tourism destinations or marking specific days in dark history and sometimes reacting to current affairs that are in some way relevant to this site’s topic.
sign up to the newsletter!
Just back from Switzerland this morning! It was a nice eight-day trip, mostly in the Alps, but also a bit of city (Zürich). The main emphasis was on the spectacular Alpine scenery. Around Zermatt this is indeed dominated by the Matterhorn, the planet’s most iconic peak.
As for the dark elements: well, the building of the Jungfrau Railway cost several workers their lives during the tunnelling. At the touristified complex at the summit one section commemorates those victims of the project (which took decades to complete from the late 1890s to the 1920s). Most names looked Italian. But there was also
My wife and I have another final week of this summer break left and spontaneously decided on our return from Venice (see previous post), to spend it in Switzerland. I wouldn’t have thought of Switzerland as a travel destination so soon, but – as with Venice – this may be a good time to go there, what with the absence of large international (esp. Chinese) tour groups. So we quickly booked our train to Zurich and a few hotels. In the country we’ll use the Swiss Travel Pass for maximum flexibility.
There’ll only be a few dark elements lined up, the main thing is to see the Alps, esp. the Matterhorn, which I have so far
I had a fantastic five days in Venice. Even though it wasn’t exactly empty and devoid of tourists, there was certainly not the degree of ‘overtourism’ that had plagued the city before the pandemic. Without the usual thick throngs of tourists, Venice was indeed much more pleasant to visit now.
While much of the trip was about just enjoying Venice as it is at the moment, wandering about and indulging in culinary delights, there had to be some dark elements too, of course. Venice may not be a top-league dark-tourism destination, but it does have its dark sides as well. The second Italian phrase in this post’s title, “Venezia buia”, means ‘dark Venice’, by the way.
This week I resumed a little bit of travelling, for the first time since January in fact, namely by going to Brno in the Czech Republic, which is only a 90-minute train ride away from where I live (Vienna). Brno (Brünn in German) had long been on my to-do list but had been too easy to postpone given its proximity. Now, with all those pandemic-induced restrictions it had become a more immediate option to test the waters of travelling during these COVID times. So I travelled with my wife by train on Tuesday and came back the same way on Thursday.
I managed to tick off all four significant dark-tourism attractions of Brno during that time: the
There’s an interesting film out about the so-called “stalkers” of Chernobyl, i.e. those people going there not by the usual tourist route, with a guide and a permit, but who enter the Exclusion Zone independently and illegally. The above photo was taken by one of them (Thierry Vanhuysse) and is part of a press package of the film company, which is where I took it from.
Apparently there’s quite a large scene of Chernobyl stalkers. I know one personally, who also told me that this film is a bit unrepresentative in so far as it only features a certain subtype of stalkers. The majority of stalkers, so I was told, follow an ethos of not banging on about their stalking exploits on blogs or social media, whereas
This beautiful and highly iconic structure is of course the fabled Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, USA. And what’s its dark secret? This very deadly one: it’s one of the world’s top suicide hotspots. Thousands have jumped off this bridge to end their lives, how many exactly is impossible to tell, but some 1600 bodies were recovered. Yet many others will have drifted out into the Pacific with the tide never to be found.
As a place to top oneself and simply vanish, this was an almost ideal spot. The height of the bridge, 70m above the waterline, more or less guarantees death on impact through