Dark Tourism: The Tower of London, United Kingdom

Dark Tourism: The Tower of London, United Kingdom

“Tower of London” by Daniel Gillaspia. Image via Flickr Creative Commons.

Dark tourism is sparking the interest of travelers around the world. Let’s explore the Tower of London and it’s dark past. Discover what awaits at this historic site in London, England.

Elizabeth Cunningham

Many people around the world have a fascination with the darker side of humanity, which could account for the rise in tourist numbers scouting out infamous historical landmarks. Whether it’s bloody battles or disasters of epic proportions, crowds are drawn in and encouraged to explore where it all happened. The Tower of London in the United Kingdom is no different, and with almost three million visitors a year stepping over the threshold, this place is a mecca for the dark tourist. It’s time to let the imagination run wild, as we look at what to expect when exploring the Tower of London.

Beheadings Galore

Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived goes the adage of Henry III’s wives, and this is where the story of his second, and perhaps most infamous, wife, Anne Boylen, ended.  It was here, in the Tower of London, Anne literally lost her head after displeasing her husband, King Henry VIII. Unfortunately, she was one of the beheaded wives in King Henry’s past.  Visit Anne’s final resting place by stopping by at the Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London.

Princes in the Towers

A long, horrible history of death and destruction is associated with this landmark. The story of the Princes in the Towers is sure to interest the curious dark adventurer. It begins with the death of King Edward IV.  His heir and spare, Edward aged 12 and Richard aged 9, waited in the tower, ready to fulfill their royal duties, under the protection of their Uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Shortly before Edward was crowned, both brothers were declared illegitimate, and dear old uncle Richard took the throne; however, the story did not end there. The last sighting of the Princes in the tower was shortly after their father’s death in 1483. To this day, there are several theories about what—or who—happened to them.  In 1674, workers found a box containing two small human skeletons, which were rumored to be the bones of the two Princes in the Towers. 

The Yeoman Warder

Walking over these cobbled, centuries-old stones of the Tower of London creates an eerie sense of wonder. This wonder can be shared by the Yeoman Warders, who are no ordinary tour guides. They have worked hard to earn the privilege of showing guests around this dark tourism hotspot by serving at least 22 years in the armed forces. They’ve also worked as warrant officers or non-commissioned officers and hold the Long Service and Good Conduct Medals. Now that’s something of a feat! 

The Tower’s Guardians

Meet all seven of the tower’s guardians; the ravens. It is said that the Kingdom and the Tower will fall if any of the six ravens leave their fortress, so you will always—hopefully—find the ravens in residence. They even have a spare should one decide to flee the nest. 

The Crown Jewels

For a little light relief from the history of murder and mayhem, take a peek at the crown jewels. Located in the Tower of London, ticket holders get to have a gander at bling as they’ve never seen it before. With hundreds of years worth of jewelry on display, it can be hard to avert your gaze. 

After hundreds of years of history, The Tower of London is not without its dark past. Whether it’s the cries of prisoners in years gone by ringing in the night or the thought of a headless Queen meeting her maker, this dark tourism location is not for the faint of heart. Be prepared for a day of countless dark tales and an unnaturally high level of deathly stories.

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