Even though Salem, Massachusetts is a picturesque coastal town with gorgeous beaches, colonial architecture, and stunning landscapes, when you hear the name, you likely only think of one thing — witches! But how much do you really know about the dark history of Salem? And what is there to see today, almost 350 years after the witch trials took place? Let’s find out.
The Witch Trials of 1692
Back in 1692, Salem was just a tiny Puritan village in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. However, a string of horrific incidents, later known as the Salem Witch Trials, would completely shake the village. The story is known by most people, but to give you a quick overview — A number of young girls living in this area, who were alleged to be under the influence of witchcraft, set off the historic trials. Over the following few months, more than 200 women were accused of practicing witchcraft as the frenzy gradually escalated.
The trials were characterized by the total absence of evidence and the use of false confessions. The accused women were tortured and deprived of sleep during cruel interrogation methods. Several innocent individuals were accused, 19 were hanged, and one person was put to death by pressing.
Visiting the Witch Trial Sites
Several witch trials-related locations have been restored and are now accessible to tourists. The Salem Witch Museum, one of the most important places, provides a thorough explanation of what happened in 1692. The museum features audiovisual exhibits and life-size replicas that accurately portray the trial’s atmosphere.
The Salem Witch Trials Memorial is another significant location that honors people who were accused and executed during the trials. There are 20 stone seats in the memorial, each with the name of an accused person and the time of their execution engraved on them. Visitors can pay tribute and reflect on the horror of the executions in the memorial’s melancholy and serene area.
The House of the Seven Gables
The House of the Seven Gables, made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book of the same name, is one of Salem’s most recognizable landmarks. The mansion, built in the seventeenth century, once belonged to Susanna Ingersoll, a relative of Nathaniel Hawthorne. The house is now a museum that provides visitors with a glimpse of colonial life.
The room where Nathaniel Hawthorne created The House of the Seven Gables is one of the items about his life and work that are displayed in the museum. Along with learning about the Ingersoll family’s history and their involvement with the Salem witch trials, visitors can also enjoy a guided tour of the mansion.
Witchcraft in Modern Salem
Regardless gruesome past of the witch trials, modern Salem has embraced its connection to the occult and witchcraft. Salem is now a major destination for tourists interested in witchcraft. There are stores offering everything from spell books to tarot cards. The town’s most eerie locations may be visited on guided tours, and visitors can even partake in psychic readings and other witchcraft-related activities.
To be clear, the witch trials were a tragedy that resulted in the deaths of many innocent individuals. It is crucial that visitors treat the topic with respect and compassion. So make sure to keep in mind the lives that were lost and to respect their memories while visiting Salem and its witchcraft-related attractions.