Why a dark tourism travel guide?
It fills a gaping gap – that's mainly why. Before, if you were interested in dark tourism
you've usually been left to your own devices when planning a trip that is to focus on places of such special interest.
Regular guidebooks (and online sources) tend to ignore these. Instead, the general coverage aims at a) beach, sun, relaxation, b) activity, such a hiking, rafting, etc., or c) the cultural. It is the latter that dark tourism destinations should be covered under, but in reality rarely are. Instead the focus is on fine arts and historical heritage sites, where the guiding principle seems to be 'the older the better'. So you get Roman rubble, mediaeval monasteries, celebrated churches and the like, but not much that is contemporary, and usually not anything at all that is in any way dark. At best you get a note in the margin that brushes the idea aside.
There are exceptions, of course. Some dark tourism sites are so significant and popular that they cannot be ignored (Auschwitz
is a good example). And there are also guidebooks that go somewhat beyond the standard cultural limitations (with their 'old! old! old!' credo). In particular the guidebooks of the Lonely Planet, Bradt and Rough Guide series tend to include more of the quirkier and darker sides of travelling as well (for Eastern Europe in particular, the InYourPocket guides have to be mentioned here too).
But even those books hardly focus on dark tourism either, and place much more emphasis on the same old too. They can be a start, though. It depends a bit on the country in question. Some may be quite good on this front (e.g. for countries like Poland
), others still remain pretty much useless in this regard.
On the Internet
, you do get a few specialized guides that overlap
with, or cover sub-categories
of dark tourism
– e.g. WWII
-related sites, the Holocaust
or volcanoes. From a broader perspective, all this, too, looks rather haphazard. Trying to plan a dark-tourism-focused trip (to whatever country) could thus be a rather frustrating affair. Until now.
What was totally missing both on the Web and on the travel guidebook market was a comprehensive coverage of places that are of interest to the dark tourist. And this is precisely where this website comes in.
As mentioned elsewhere on this site, it is impossible to be 100% comprehensive, and this website will remain a work in progress, never to be finished. But it is already by far the most comprehensive such guide anywhere. If you want to start planning a dark-tourism-focused trip, this is by far the best starting point you could find.
Given that few travellers are dark-only tourists, and most people interested in the dark aspects of a place are ALSO interested in other things, this website in no way aims to replace regular travel guides, where you will find more general information about practicalities, accommodation options, and non-dark touristic points of interest. That said, many of the entries here also try to incorporate at least a few elements of this, e.g. offering hints on non-dark attractions that could well be combined with a visit to a particular dark site. Overall, however, readers will still want to refer to more in-depth general guides as well.
In short: this online dark tourism travel guide complements
existing travel guides – but it closes the gap
with regard to the special interest that is dark tourism
, at least as far as that is possible. I'm aware that I still have lots of further work to do ...