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The Witch’s House and other mysterious homes around the world

Slide 1 of 31: Brain-boggling and truly bizarre, the world's most baffling houses would perplex even the likes of Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple. From labyrinthine abodes that make absolutely no sense to stately homes shrouded in secrets and spine-chilling stories of supernatural activity, these intriguing dwellings will delight anyone who loves to sink their teeth into a good mystery. Click or scroll for more...

10 enigmatic homes that will mess with your mind

Brain-boggling and truly bizarre, the world’s most baffling houses would perplex even the likes of Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple. From labyrinthine abodes that make absolutely no sense to stately homes shrouded in secrets and spine-chilling stories of supernatural activity, these intriguing dwellings will delight anyone who loves to sink their teeth into a good mystery.

Slide 2 of 31: Packed with puzzling architectural oddities and boasting a backstory that's as curious as they come, the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California is hands-down one of the world's weirdest homes. Built over a 36-year period for Sarah Winchester, the troubled heiress to the eponymous gun fortune, the home was transformed from a simple two-storey farmhouse into a sprawling 24,000-square-foot mansion comprising an incredible 160 rooms.

Winchester Mystery House

Packed with puzzling architectural oddities and boasting a backstory that’s as curious as they come, the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California is hands-down one of the world’s weirdest homes. Built over a 36-year period for Sarah Winchester, the troubled heiress to the eponymous gun fortune, the home was transformed from a simple two-storey farmhouse into a sprawling 24,000-square-foot mansion comprising an incredible 160 rooms.

Slide 3 of 31: Legend has it the construction of the vast house, which was completed in 1922, was guided by the spirit of her dead husband, who Mrs Winchester is said to have consulted during seances in the witch's cap turret room. The eccentric widow was, as the story goes, haunted by the ghosts of people killed by the Model 1873 rifle and the mansion's many oddball features – think faux staircases, a door to nowhere and myriad secret passages – were purportedly designed to confuse these vengeful phantoms.

Winchester Mystery House

Legend has it the construction of the vast house, which was completed in 1922, was guided by the spirit of her dead husband, who Mrs Winchester is said to have consulted during seances in the witch’s cap turret room. The eccentric widow was, as the story goes, haunted by the ghosts of people killed by the Model 1873 rifle and the mansion’s many oddball features – think faux staircases, a door to nowhere and myriad secret passages – were purportedly designed to confuse these vengeful phantoms.

Slide 4 of 31: As well as believing in ghosts, Mrs Winchester was obsessed with the number 13: the house has 13 bathrooms, staircases with 13 steps, chandeliers with 13 arms and so on, adding immeasurably to its eeriness. The Queen Anne-style mansion, which was so-named by escape artist Harry Houdini, was opened to the public in 1923. The peculiar property has since attracted 12 million visitors and even inspired a Hollywood movie, but many of its mysteries remain unsolved to this day.

Winchester Mystery House

As well as believing in ghosts, Mrs Winchester was obsessed with the number 13: the house has 13 bathrooms, staircases with 13 steps, chandeliers with 13 arms and so on, adding immeasurably to its eeriness. The Queen Anne-style mansion, which was so-named by escape artist Harry Houdini, was opened to the public in 1923. The peculiar property has since attracted 12 million visitors and even inspired a Hollywood movie, but many of its mysteries remain unsolved to this day.

Slide 5 of 31: The number 13 is avoided like the plague by many architects with countless buildings around the world omitting a 13 floor. Not so in this labyrinthine residence in Osaka, Japan, which proudly features 13 levels. Designed by Tato Architects' Yo Shimada, who like Mrs Winchester clearly has no problem at all with the number, the abode is bland and unassuming from the outside. Inside it's a different story entirely.

House in Miyamoto

The number 13 is avoided like the plague by many architects with countless buildings around the world omitting a 13 floor. Not so in this labyrinthine residence in Osaka, Japan, which proudly features 13 levels. Designed by Tato Architects’ Yo Shimada, who like Mrs Winchester clearly has no problem at all with the number, the abode is bland and unassuming from the outside. Inside it’s a different story entirely.

Slide 6 of 31: House in Miyamoto is an intriguing puzzle house that breaks every architectural rule in the book, taking open-concept living to its extreme and rocking a disorientating vibe reminiscent of the famous mind-bending, gravity-defying Relatively print by Dutch artist MC Escher. The clients, a family of three, wanted a space that would allow them to feel close to one another, so the architect eschewed internal walls and private areas. While starkly minimalist on first inspection, the property is actually the antithesis of Marie Kondo-esque pared-backness.

House in Miyamoto

House in Miyamoto is an intriguing puzzle house that breaks every architectural rule in the book, taking open-concept living to its extreme and rocking a disorientating vibe reminiscent of the famous mind-bending, gravity-defying Relatively print by Dutch artist MC Escher. The clients, a family of three, wanted a space that would allow them to feel close to one another, so the architect eschewed internal walls and private areas. While starkly minimalist on first inspection, the property is actually the antithesis of Marie Kondo-esque pared-backness.

Slide 8 of 31: Labelled 'the strangest home in the world', Körner’s Folly in Kernerville, North Carolina gives the Winchester Mystery House a run for its money in the weirdness stakes. The oddball house was built in 1880 by artist and designer Jule Gilmer Körner aka 'the Man of a Thousand Peculiarities'. A riotous mishmash of styles, the exceedingly eclectic house has 22 rooms in total spread across three storeys and seven levels.

Körner’s Folly

Labelled ‘the strangest home in the world’, Körner’s Folly in Kernerville, North Carolina gives the Winchester Mystery House a run for its money in the weirdness stakes. The oddball house was built in 1880 by artist and designer Jule Gilmer Körner aka ‘the Man of a Thousand Peculiarities’. A riotous mishmash of styles, the exceedingly eclectic house has 22 rooms in total spread across three storeys and seven levels.

Slide 9 of 31: Each room is unique with ceiling heights ranging from a claustrophobic five-and-a-half feet to an imposing 25 feet, and no two doorways or windows are alike. Ditto the property's six chimneys and 15 fireplaces, which all differ considerably in style. Visitors may wonder why the home embraces so many diverse styles and the answer lies in Körner’s profession: the property was actually conceived as a sort of showcase for his interior decorating firm.

Körner’s Folly

Each room is unique with ceiling heights ranging from a claustrophobic five-and-a-half feet to an imposing 25 feet, and no two doorways or windows are alike. Ditto the property’s six chimneys and 15 fireplaces, which all differ considerably in style. Visitors may wonder why the home embraces so many diverse styles and the answer lies in Körner’s profession: the property was actually conceived as a sort of showcase for his interior decorating firm.

Slide 10 of 31: A home interiors' catalogue brought to life, the house has been open to the public from the get-go and features America's oldest private theatre, which is situated on the third floor. Other oddities include a mini version of the house, which functioned as an outdoor toilet. After falling into disrepair during the Second World War, the idiosyncratic property narrowly dodged demolition before it was saved during the 1990s and nowadays is one of the premier tourist attractions in the area.

Körner’s Folly

A home interiors’ catalogue brought to life, the house has been open to the public from the get-go and features America’s oldest private theatre, which is situated on the third floor. Other oddities include a mini version of the house, which functioned as an outdoor toilet. After falling into disrepair during the Second World War, the idiosyncratic property narrowly dodged demolition before it was saved during the 1990s and nowadays is one of the premier tourist attractions in the area.

Slide 11 of 31: An atmosphere of mystery pervades the Ukraine's Pidhirtsi Castle. Built between 1635 and 1640 for Grand Crown Hetman Stanisław Koniecpolski of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the neo-Gothic stately home has passed through a multitude of owners and been attacked and looted numerous times throughout its chequered history.

Pidhirtsi Castle

An atmosphere of mystery pervades the Ukraine’s Pidhirtsi Castle. Built between 1635 and 1640 for Grand Crown Hetman Stanisław Koniecpolski of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the neo-Gothic stately home has passed through a multitude of owners and been attacked and looted numerous times throughout its chequered history.

Slide 12 of 31: The scene of a whole host of ghoulish goings-on, the castle was confiscated by the Soviets following the Second World War and served as a tuberculosis sanatorium until 1956 when a devastating fire ripped through the building. The stately home was abandoned not long after and lay empty until 1997 when it was converted into a museum. While the castle remains in pretty bad shape, a major restoration project is ongoing.

Pidhirtsi Castle

The scene of a whole host of ghoulish goings-on, the castle was confiscated by the Soviets following the Second World War and served as a tuberculosis sanatorium until 1956 when a devastating fire ripped through the building. The stately home was abandoned not long after and lay empty until 1997 when it was converted into a museum. While the castle remains in pretty bad shape, a major restoration project is ongoing.

Slide 13 of 31: The basement is said to have housed an alchemical laboratory and local legend states that countless treasures lie hidden within the castle. The stately home is also purported to be haunted by a ghost dubbed the 'White Lady'. Jealous of the admiring glances his young wife elicited, former owner Severin Zhevussky reportedly buried her alive in the dungeon's walls sometime during the late 18th century. It is alleged her phantom has been sighted on more than one occasion.

Pidhirtsi Castle

The basement is said to have housed an alchemical laboratory and local legend states that countless treasures lie hidden within the castle. The stately home is also purported to be haunted by a ghost dubbed the ‘White Lady’. Jealous of the admiring glances his young wife elicited, former owner Severin Zhevussky reportedly buried her alive in the dungeon’s walls sometime during the late 18th century. It is alleged her phantom has been sighted on more than one occasion.

Slide 14 of 31: The creepy Dutch Colonial house that inspired the Amityville Horror book and series of movies still stands in the town of the same name, which is located around 30 miles outside New York City. The home was the setting of a grisly mass murder on 13 November 1974 when Ronald DeFeo Jr shot and killed six members of his family. Talk about spooky!

Amityville Horror House

The creepy Dutch Colonial house that inspired the Amityville Horror book and series of movies still stands in the town of the same name, which is located around 30 miles outside New York City. The home was the setting of a grisly mass murder on 13 November 1974 when Ronald DeFeo Jr shot and killed six members of his family.

Slide 15 of 31: Just over a year after the murders, the house was snapped up at a knockdown price by the Lutz family. They lasted just 28 days in the home. Besieged by supernatural forces, the family were traumatised by a litany of paranormal activity, from foul odours and green slime oozing out of the walls to terrifying apparitions and voices shouting “get out!”. George Lutz even observed his wife and sons levitating over their beds while asleep.

Amityville Horror House

Just over a year after the murders, the house was snapped up at a knockdown price by the Lutz family. They lasted just 28 days in the home. Besieged by supernatural forces, the family were traumatised by a litany of paranormal activity, from foul odours and green slime oozing out of the walls to terrifying apparitions and voices shouting “get out!”. George Lutz even observed his wife and sons levitating over their beds while asleep.

Slide 16 of 31: Though doubt has been cast on the family's experiences, Mr and Mrs Lutz did in fact pass lie detector tests. Be that as it may, five families have lived in the property since the alleged haunting, none of whom have reported any paranormal activity, though the Lutzes did call upon a priest to conduct an exorcism, which may have rid the property of its supernatural forces.

Amityville Horror House

Though doubt has been cast on the family’s experiences, Mr and Mrs Lutz did in fact pass lie detector tests. Be that as it may, five families have lived in the property since the alleged haunting, none of whom have reported any paranormal activity, though the Lutzes did call upon a priest to conduct an exorcism, which may have rid the property of its supernatural forces.

Slide 17 of 31: The aptly named Villa of the Mysteries, which is located in the ancient city of Pompeii near Naples, Italy has stumped experts since its excavation in the early 20th century. An exquisitely preserved suburban villa on the outskirts of the ill-fated city, the property, which is Pompeii's most celebrated abode, derives its name from the Hall of Mysteries situated in the residential part of the building.

Villa of the Mysteries

The aptly named Villa of the Mysteries, which is located in the ancient city of Pompeii near Naples, Italy has stumped experts since its excavation in the early 20th century. An exquisitely preserved suburban villa on the outskirts of the ill-fated city, the property, which is Pompeii’s most celebrated abode, derives its name from the Hall of Mysteries situated in the residential part of the building.

Slide 18 of 31: While many rooms in the villa are adorned with colourful frescos, the most alluring – and mysterious – decorate the main hall, which is alternatively known as the red room. These frescos are among the best preserved paintings from the Ancient World. But exactly what they depict is still not conclusive.

Villa of the Mysteries

While many rooms in the villa are adorned with colourful frescos, the most alluring – and mysterious – decorate the main hall, which is alternatively known as the red room. These frescos are among the best preserved paintings from the Ancient World. But exactly what they depict is still not conclusive.

Slide 19 of 31: A slew of interpretations have been put forward over the years by those in the know including a simple play or pantomime, a bride getting ready for her wedding and more bizarrely, an esoteric rite to initiate devotees into the cult of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, fertility and religious ecstasy. Yet the jury is still out and we may never know what these intriguing frescos really represent.

Villa of the Mysteries

A slew of interpretations have been put forward over the years by those in the know including a simple play or pantomime, a bride getting ready for her wedding and more bizarrely, an esoteric rite to initiate devotees into the cult of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, fertility and religious ecstasy. Yet the jury is still out and we may never know what these intriguing frescos really represent.

Slide 20 of 31: Mysteriously frozen in time for decades, the beguiling Bellosguardo mansion in Santa Barbara, California has lain empty since the 1960s, but unlike other grand forlorn houses around the world, has been pristinely maintained over the years at a cost of up to $40,000 (£31k) per month. The property is one of several that was owned by the late heiress Huguette Clark.

Bellosguardo

Mysteriously frozen in time for decades, the beguiling Bellosguardo mansion in Santa Barbara, California has lain empty since the 1960s, but unlike other grand forlorn houses around the world, has been pristinely maintained over the years at a cost of up to $40,000 (£31k) per month. The property is one of several that was owned by the late heiress Huguette Clark.

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