Are you bored with ghosts and tired of true crime? Yeah, I get it. For those of us with a truly creepy side, sometimes you need a little more stimulation than scary movies or Lifetime ghost stories. Sometimes, you need a real dead body to freak you out or intrigue your weirdo brain properly. Lucky for you, you don’t need to go gravedigging to satisfy your creepy-crawly itch. You can go see some famous dead bodies on your next vacation!
This one’s a no-brainer. The famous Boy King of Egypt has been dead for over 3,000 years, but people are still flocking to see him. The discovery and subsequent exhumation of his tomb in the early 1900s brought tales of both incredible riches and of an evil curse. The curse was probably a hoax, but you can see for yourself when you visit him. You can’t see his actual mummy, since it’s chillin’ in the Valley of the Kings, but his death mask travels around. Close enough, right? Did you know it took a whopping 70 days to mummify a dead person in ancient Egypt?
When Bernadette was a young teen, she started having visions of the Virgin Mary, 18 in total. Bernadette stuck to her story for the rest of her life, though she died relatively young at only 35. Her body was exhumed and was said to be totally without blemish, even after many years. She was exhumed twice more, in 1919 and 1925, and parts of her body were taken as relics because everyone was like “OMG! She looks great! She must be a saint.” She was canonized in 1933, and her corpse rests in They covered her corpse in a “light wax” to keep her skin from turning black, thinking that the natural color of death would turn away tourists. People come to see Bernadette in hopes that she’ll heal them of their illnesses. You can see her in Nevers, France.
The Soap Lady
WTF happened to the woman known as the “Soap Lady?” She probably died in the mid-19th century, but upon her exhumation in 1875 it was discovered that her body was covered in a weird fatty substance, sort of like soap of that time period. No one put this stuff on her, though; she turned herself into soap post-death! It’s pretty rare, but the Soap Lady proves that if you dream really hard, you can be anything – even soap. (OK, we kid.) Check her out at the Mutter Museum in Philly.
Russian political figure Lenin died in 1924 as the result of several strokes, but his devotees acted fast and had his body embalmed so well that it still looks perfect, as if Lenin is just taking a nap. They even change his suits! Visit him at the Lenin Museum in Russia.
When you think about insanely detail mummification, you probably think of Egypt. However, it’s China who did an impeccable job preserving the Lady of Dai, a Chinese ruler’s wife, who died anywhere between 178-145 B.C. You can check her out at the Hunan Provincial Museum, and you’ll be shocked at how great she looks for her advanced age. When her corpse was discovered, she was still moist. (Ew.) After she died, probably around 50 from a heart attack, her body was kept in four (!!) coffins underground and she was cloaked in layers of silk to preserve her. Like the Egyptians, Lady Dai was buried with plentiful treasures for her afterlife. Scientists have no idea how this mummification process was carried out way back in the day; it’s an ancient Chinese mystery!
The Ice Maiden
This poor young girl (she was probably 12 or 13) was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She had the misfortune of being sacrificed to the gods about 500 years ago in Peru, and even though that was supposed to be a big honor, she still died, so that sucks. In 1995, a volcano erupted nearby and her mummy, along with a young boy and a woman, was discovered under layers of ice and snow. Her mummy was well-preserved by winter! Think about that the next time you’re complaining about the icy temps. Researchers think Juanita (the name she was given by her ‘90s fans) was probably clubbed in the head at the time of sacrifice. You can see her at the Museo Santuarios de Altura in Peru.
You can’t see the entire bod of St. Anthony, but you can visit his chin and tongue when it goes on tour! St. Anthony died way back in 1231, and his body was exhumed some years later. Most of it looked pretty bad, as bodies tend to do, but his chin and tongue were in shockingly beautiful shape. So beautiful that the church encased them in fancy gold, believing that the lower half of his mouth had stayed preserved because of his gift for speaking the gospel in sermons. St. Anthony is also the patron saint of lost things, which is funny since his forearm travels around the world, too!
The Ice Man
We learned about the Ice Maiden, and now it’s time to introduce you to the Ice Man. (Please note: I had terrible nightmares about the Ice Man as a child after seeing him on PBS.) They call him Otzi and he’s chillin’ (literally, LOL) in Italy. (Link: http://www.iceman.it/en/node/245) He was found in 1991 frozen in a glacier (tough luck) and is over 5,000 years old. When they found him, studies were done that showed he was probably suffering from gallstones and Lyme disease, which doesn’t make for a very fun life. I mean, he ate pollen, so … it probably wasn’t that fun to be Otzi, but now he’s a certified celeb, so it all worked out!
If you’re a big fan of “Team America: World Police,” you can go see Kim Jong-il lying in state. The North Korean leader is currently waiting for your visit in a mausoleum. By all accounts, he wasn’t the nicest guy in the world.
The Elephant Man
Joseph Merrick’s case has mystified doctors and scientists alike for years. It’s thought that Merrick had Proteus syndrome, where your bones and tissues grow super fast. Merrick’s story is super-sad; he was so deformed that he terrified children and spent time as a sideshow attraction. Eventually he was crushed to death with the weight of his own head when he accidentally fell asleep lying on his back.