Real Places Behind Famously Frightening Stories
Light your pumpkin and read about the real places behind some of the world’s classic spooky tales
- By Robin T. Reid
- Smithsonian.com, October 16, 2009
Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
The story of a ship called the Flying Dutchman doomed to sail the seas for eternity is a trusty old chestnut much loved in the arts. Richard Wagner turned it into an opera, Washington Irving wrote about it, American artist Albert Pinkham Ryder created a moody portrait of it, and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” introduced modern audiences to the legend.
Many believe the original vessel was sailing between Holland and the Dutch East Indies in the 17th century. As it approached the Cape of Good Hope near the tip of Africa, a fierce storm arose. The captain, perhaps eager to get the trip over with, vowed to round the treacherous coastline even if it took him until doomsday.
Those who want to see the results of his folly can stand watch from the Cape, now part of South Africa’s breathtakingly gorgeous Table Rock National Park.