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Literature

Atlas of Dark Destinations Includes Sites in Greece and Cyprus

October 19, 2021

In time for Halloween, a new travel book, titled Atlas of Dark Destinations by Dr. Peter Hohenhaus, published on October 21 by Laurence King Publishing, features sites to visit around the world that highlight the darker aspects of history. Locations in Greece and Cyprus are among the 300 destinations in the book. Reaching some of the darkest and most unsettling corners of the world, this book is definitely a unique compendium of travel destinations.

Over the past decade, dark tourism has taken the world by storm with people trading relaxed beach escapes to more meaningful voyages exploring the troubled past of destinations around the globe. Atlas of Dark Destinations offers a journey to locations as diverse as the Museum of Death, Hiroshima, Jonestown, and Pearl Harbor.

While many travelers make time to visit historic sites during their vacations, the activity is usually not the main focus of the trip. Visits to battlefields and cemeteries have always drawn those who have lost loved ones, but also those with a deep interest in history, so the increasing fascination with dark tourism is not surprising.

The author, having visited over 700 dark destinations, brings his first-hand knowledge to the reader. Dark tourism has seen a surge in popularity in the last decade and this is the first book to bring together 300 destinations in a readable and fascinating guide. From nuclear bunkers and disaster sites to strange medical museums and eerie catacombs, this book has something for everyone who seeks a travel experience with true meaning.

In his introduction, Hohenhaus writes, “I’m a travel addict and I’ve long been interested in modern history – which is, of course, full of dark chapters.”

He had first come across the term “dark tourism” in a newspaper article in 2007 and realized he was already a “dark tourist” having already visited Chernobyl, North Korea, and Robben Island in South Africa.

Hohenhaus also offers tips in his introduction. He writes: “Visitor conduct is something that you must carefully consider when going to some of these places. For instance, dark tourism does not go well with taking smiley selfies. Visiting sites of tragedy requires respectful behavior. Some sites have visitor regulations in place, and these should be observed.”

The author continues: “Most visitors to sites like Auschwitz and Robben Island do behave appropriately and, when asked their motivation for visiting, answer that they want to learn about history and/or pay their respects to the victims. For some, the journey may even be a kind of pilgrimage. Dark tourism may not be uplifting in a purely ‘fun’ sense, but it is certainly enlightening and broadens one’s horizons immensely.”

Each destination entry in the book also includes two ratings. The star rating from one to five is “a general quality assessment, reflecting such criteria as how accessible a place is, how well appointed it is for visitors, whether the interpretation is multilingual or not, and other practicalities relating to the tourist experience,” Hohenhaus writes.

“The second rating is a ‘darkness rating’, scored on a scale of one to ten,” he continues, adding that “obviously, some destinations are darker than others depending on what events have taken place there and what they stand for.”

Hohenhaus explains: “Places associated with extremely dark chapters in history such as genocide are necessarily given a higher ranking than less grim sites like Colditz [the German castle requisitioned by the Nazis in World War II to house high-ranking Allied

POWs], or socialist sculpture parks (which may be symbolic of repressive regimes but where nobody directly came to serious harm).”

Hohenhaus is also the creator and curator of the dark-tourism.com website. This is his first book.

Atlas of Dark Destinations: Explore the World of Dark Tourism by Peter Hohenhaus is available online.

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