Although not as common in Turkey as compared to the rest of the world, dark tourism involves travel to places related with historical tragedies and death such as battlefields, disaster sites and prisons
A number of haunted hotels around the world are quite good at manipulating consumer psychology to turn it into cash. Horror fans are the regular customers of the business of fear, yet the rising trend of dark tourism, or “thanatourism,” involving travel to sites of death, pain, horror, disaster as well as extreme danger is drawing more people for spooky and macabre experiences.
Being as old as other popular tourism types, dark tourism covers a multi-layered mixture of history, heritage and tragedies. Professor John Lennon, a lecturer in dark tourism from Glasgow Caledonian University London, is the one who coined the term “dark tourism” in 1966. It is not as common in Turkey compared to the rest of the world, but there are a handful of places suitable to be called black spots.
A castle with a secret passage inside located in the central Tokat province, which is believed to be where Vlad the Impaler, best known as Count Dracula, was imprisoned in the early 15th century can be a starting point.
This summer, a certain part of the passage opened for visits and some of the castle’s sections are still under restoration. An inspirational resource for horror stories, the Wallachian voivode was taken as hostage by the Ottomans. His cruelty and appearance are still used as a source of fear in historical fantasy TV series and movies like “Da Vinci’s Demons.”
The next destination takes us to Turkey’s Black Sea region. The history of Cehennemağzı (Mouth of Hell) Inn in Zonguldak’s Ereğli district as well as its dark appearance might not scare you much, but rather trigger excitement. Heracles – Hercules in Roman mythology – is said to have fought with Cerberus, a strange mixture of creatures with three heads of wild dogs, a serpent tail and of snake heads on its back. Open for visits, the inn is said to be where Hercules triumphed over the beast.
The phenomenon of dark tourism does not merely promote places with sinister histories. Indeed, it raises the question of why tourists want to feel others’ sufferings. A good place to find an answer in Turkey would be Ulucanlar Prison in Ankara, which now serves as a museum.
As Turkey’s first prison built in 1925, the prison witnessed killings and rebellions for years. Prominent figures from the Turkish political and literary scenes such as actor Yılmaz Güney, late Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, author Fakir Baykurt, activist Deniz Gezmiş, poet Nazım Hikmet and politician Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu were held captive there. Inundated with the smell of mold, different wards appear as visitors pass through dark, cold corridors. The Hilton Ward is the most popular of all hosting journalists, authors and other well-known figures. Closed for restoration in 2009 and re-opened as a museum two years later, the place offers a similar experience to those of the notorious Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco.
The commodification of war and battlefields is a potential product for dark tourism as well. Cemeteries and memorials on the Gallipoli Peninsula are presumably Turkey’s best places for warfare tourism, a sub-category of dark tourism. Tips Mersin Escort