When I was going up the stairs, I saw a man who wasn’t there,
He wasn’t there again today, I wish, I wish, he’s go away.
“Have you ever been to that ghost house in Chaoyag District?”
That and questions about the impossible to find Underground City are probably the two most common questions that Burbex gets asked. Chaoyang 81 is now legendary in Beijing attracting visitors from all over China not just for urbex, but also for ghost hunters and thrill seekers.
There are many urban legends about the two houses. The first myth talks about a Nationalist leader who lived in the house before the revolution. Before he and his wife could escape, his wife hanged herself from the rafters in the room you can see below.
Ghost hunters and drunk kids still invade this building at night and at Halloween they have seances and try to find a ghost. This is much to the annoyance of the local government who have put up banners inside declaring:-
Don’t make love in the open house, don’t believe in ghosts.
(not sure what the connection is either)
One thing is for sure, is that the building is still owned by The Catholic Diosese in Beijing, and is reportedly worth hundreds of millions of yuan. This is not surprising as it is prime real estate. The buildings themselves began to seriously decline after the release of the third rate 3D movie The House That Never Dies, which encouraged even more visitors to tear the place apart.
Whatever the true history of the building, one thing is for sure, it is very very spooky in there at night. Burbex visited for the first time in December 2013 at 5am in the morning. Not usually one to be spooked, there was definitely a chill running down his spine.
Both buildings have extensive attic space which looks out onto a school at the back, and a building that looks like a mosque at the front. Both building also have plenty of basement rooms and hidden tunnels.
The left hand building which is significantly bigger, is beginning to collapse, and it is very easy to put your foot through a floorboard and end up on story below. Chaoyang 81 has been a victim of its own success with visitors all tearing away a little piece of their own.
Surprisingly when Burbex went there for the first time, there was no graffiti, rather just chalk messages in which it was written that they had seen the ghost. The only remains of ghostly activity though are left over props from the movie, and also the bizarre props from photo shoots.
Despite the fact that they are falling down quickly, the buildings still have an imposing presence, and as soon as you enter you notice a distinct drop in temperature. All the banisters and window frames are all made of the red wood for which Beijing is famous.
As part as of the article for Burbex.org published in The Guardian newspaper, photographer James Wassenger took some night photos with light painting, one of which was used for the main picture below.
Whatever your interest in the building, from ghosts to architecture and weird history, Chaoyang 81 has something for every level of explorer. For this Chaoyang 81, The House That Never Dies, gets special mention with an A*** grade.
By the way, if you are interested in other great spooky locations like The Qianmen Gate Haunted Hotel or cursed places with horror stories of dead workers and terrible fengshui like Longyan International Park, be sure to check out the rest of the site.
In the meantime, if you ever want to come out exploring, just get in contact with Brin by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can set up a time to meet. Don’t forget to bring your crucifix and holy water.