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Destinations and Their Famous Celebrities (With a Difference)



In our Instagram-savvy life, we are used to aligning certain places and celebrities (or their alter egos), associating one with the other, and evoking images and stories that tell a story. Sarah Jessica Parker and New York City, Ally McBeal and Boston, Dorothy and Kansas.

What is often more intriguing is learning about destinations that have been ‘sullied’ by their associations with characters of more nefarious reputations. As an example, Praia da Luz has become a town which will forever be linked to the mysterious disappearance of the three year old Madeleine McCann.

Many destinations have embraced the notoriety and turnedtragedy into a source of curiosity, encouraging visitors and creating a complete narrative around the tragedy that feeds into that curiosity. While the McCann example is still part of an ongoing investigation, the town’s depiction as a tourist destination tries to distance itself from the disappearance. However, there are plenty of examples of other places whose infamy is linked directly to their history. We’ve highlighted some of our favourites here.   

Understanding the witching history of Salem, Massachusetts

Salem is best known for the witch trials, which took place in 1692 when over 200 people were accused of being witches. Of those 200, 30 people were found guilty, 19 of whom were then hung, and one, Giles Corey, was pressed to death. The Salem Witch Trials became known as one of the most notorious cases of mass hysteria but has been embraced subsequently as a source of narrative and intrigue on which the town of Salem has been an entire tourist industry.

Exploring the dark alleyways of Whitechapel, London,with Jack the Ripper

The tale of Jack the Ripper has become a global industry. Whitechapel is an area of London, and many of the dark alleyways and buildings that were witnesses to the Ripper murders no longer even exist. However, this has not stopped hundreds of thousands of intrigued visitors from making the pilgrimage to this forgotten corner of London to walk in the footsteps of the world’s most famous serial killer.

The story of Jack the Ripper itself unfolds manifold the further you dig into it. Many of those associated with the killer have themselves become household names - Annie Chapman, Catherine Eddowes, Mary Jane Kelly, William Bury, Aaron Kosminski, Carl Feigenbaum… each name has its own association with the Ripper, but none has ever led to the actual solving of the crime.

The terror of remaining concealed with Anne Fran in Amsterdam

If ever we need a reason to remind ourselves of man’s inhumanity to man, a visit to the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam is an experience that will leave you both shaken to the core, and shaking your head in the utter senselessness of the terror of the holocaust.

Anne Frank was a young Jewish girl living in the Netherlands when war broke out across Europe. In the summer of 1942, just after her thirteenth birthday, Anne and her family moved into a secret annexe her father had built which was concealed from the rest of the world by a bookcase. The family spent two years in hiding, and Anne became famous due to the diary she kept during those two years.

Anne subsequently dies while being held at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp after contracting typhus. Her father, who was the only family member to survive, subsequently published her diary, which was translated into 70 languages.

Their hiding place was preserved and has since been turned into a museum and centre for education, holding workshops about Anne Frank, the Second World War, the Holocaust and antisemitism.