Sure, New Orleans is well known for its cocktails, its jazz, and its good times (laissez les bons temps rouler, indeed). But make no mistake: The Big Easy’s got a dark side, too. Famous for its voodoo heritage, a major port in the American slave trade, and home to a number of spooky cemeteries””no wonder it’s frequently cited as one of America’s most ghost-ridden cities. From graveyards to historic hotels to cathedrals, these are some of the most haunted places in New Orleans.
The LaLaurie Mansion
One of the most infamous haunted places in New Orleans, the LaLaurie Mansion is not one for those with a weak constitution””its creepy past goes well beyond the merely macabre. Delphine LaLaurie, a local socialite, installed a secret torture chamber in her house where she brutalised dozens of her slaves. Though the chamber was discovered during a house fire in 1834″”and while LaLaurie escaped to live out the rest of her days in Paris””the house still stands. Its interior is not accessible to visitors, but perhaps that’s for the best.
St Louis Cemetery Number 1
It isn’t unusual for a cemetery to have paranormal associations. But the St Louis Cemetery Number 1 isn’t your average graveyard. For one, the 18th century landmark’s aboveground vaults (a necessity in New Orleans, which is largely below sea level) have earned it the moniker “the city of the dead.” For another, New Orleans’s infamous Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau, was also laid to rest here””some say her ghost can be seen wandering the aisles, mumbling curses. Note that her ghost has also supposedly been spotted at the Old Absinthe House, proving that even spirits will travel for a good Sazerac.
For those asking what business a sultan would have in New Orleans, time to consult those history books. Known officially as the Gardette-LaPrete House, the Sultan’s Palace earned its moniker after a mysterious massacre involving a visiting Turk (technically the brother of a sultan) and his harem supposedly took place here in the late 1800s. Given the building’s elegant wrought-iron edifice and stately appearance, you wouldn’t know it these days””but walk by and you may sense a certain paranormal tingle.
By day, the Beauregard-Keyes House, a 19th-century French Quarter landmark, attracts visitors with its museum artefacts and pretty garden. By night, however, things are said to take a darker turn: once the home of Confederate General Pierre Gustav Toutant Beauregard, the address has been said to harbour his ghost, the ghost of fellow soldiers and cavalry in the American Civil War, and other paranormal visitors.
Most visitors to New Orleans know Jackson Square (and the accompanying St Louis Cathedral) as one of the city’s most famous sights””indeed, the French Quarter landmark is often used as a symbol of the city. And yet, you may not want to get too close”¦particularly after dusk. For when night falls, many claim that this site turns into one of the most haunted places in New Orleans. The two most commonly seen ghosts are those of priests, Pere Antoine and Pere Dagobert, who worked in the cathedral several hundred years ago; some witnesses have even claimed to see Delphine LaLaurie’s ghost strolling amongst the pews.
New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
The very first apothecary in the city, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum is a striking vestige of the past – antique rosewood cupboards store hundreds of old-timey bottles and vials, while other decorative touches date to its 1823 founding. But there’s more here than meets the eye: for starters, Voodoo potions and medical oddities are among the items on display. And then there are the spirit sightings: Dr. Dupas, who lived in the building in the mid-1800s, is frequently seen wandering the property in his brown suit. Some attribute his appearance to the nefarious medical experiments he supposedly practiced, and many claim to have heard his unearthly groans coming from the third floor.
Today, the luxurious, four-star Hotel Monteleone certainly wouldn’t suggest a history of paranormal hauntings. But this opulent French Quarter landmark has long ranked among the most haunted places in New Orleans; generations of hotel guests and staff have reportedly been subject to ghostly encounters. In 2003, a visit by the International Society of Paranormal Research supposedly confirmed the presence of more than 12 spirits in the building. Though they’re said to be friendly, you may not want to sleep alone””just in case.
Le Pavillon Hotel
The most haunted hotel in New Orleans? Le Pavillon Hotel, with its old world elegance, wears the moniker well””and lest you think these are mere tall tales, note that a paranormal specialist has confirmed at least four ghosts in the hotel, including a young woman who’s known to get into cabs toward the docks before disappearing into thin air. Other stories tell of bedside apparitions in the night and sheets that move of their own accord. You might want to indulge in a few cocktails before heading back here for the night, if only to help you sleep through the hauntings.
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Are you brave enough to explore the most haunted places in New Orleans? Seen any ghosts yourself? Share your paranormal experiences with us in the comments below.
Written by Claire Bullen