Creepy castles near the KMC

Frankenstein Castle in Darmstadt, Germany. | Photo by Boris Stroujko via 123RF.
Frankenstein Castle in Darmstadt, Germany. | Photo by Boris Stroujko via 123RF.

Creepy castles near the KMC

by Amanda Palumbo
Stripes Europe

Something many don’t know about me is my parents are paranormal investigators. Really. They have all the scientific equipment, they go on ghost hunts and they’ve even captured “evidence.” So, my “spook-meter” is probably more liberal than most, but after extensive research and internet rabbit holes, here are the top three creepiest castles the Pfalz has to offer.

Burg Frankenstein

Not to be confused with the Frankenstein Castle ruins located in Frankenstein, Burg Frankenstein is a 700-year-old hilltop castle in Odenwald looming over the city of Darmstadt. There is much debate on whether or not the castle inspired Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel but there is plenty that makes this castle spooky aside from a fictional monster and its crazy creator.

It was home to a real-life mad scientist, Johann Konrad Dippel. According to legend, Dippel practiced alchemy and performed experiments on stolen cadavers, including “soul-transference,” attempting to transfer the soul of one cadaver into another. Dippel is rumored to haunt the castle grounds, especially around Christmas and New Year’s.

Present-day Burg Frankenstein is a mere crumbling shell, adding to its ghostly appearance. A classic German foggy fall day provides the perfect eerie ambiance needed for the hairs to stand up on your neck or a really cool Instagram photo. There is a restaurant and chapel on-site, providing incredible views of the Rhine.

Post World War II, the grounds were used as an American military base. The castle soon became the hot spot for the troops’ annual Halloween party, a tradition carried on each year. The costume party now draws in 2,500 people donned as witches, vampires and naturally, a few Frankenstein monsters. However, it could be canceled this year due to the pandemic.

Burg Eltz

What do you get when you mix a very independent countess, an undesirable suitor and a battle ax? A super haunted castle.

Burg Eltz is a gorgeous castle in Wierschem, north of the Moselle between Koblenz and Cochem. It’s dramatic architecture, long cobblestone uphill walkway and isolation among a thick forest would be the perfect opening shot for a classic horror film.

Its primary paranormal tenant is Countess Agnes Eltz. Her father, the Count, promised his daughter to a knight. Agnes was just not that into him and when she physically revolted at the knight’s advances, he was furious and threw his glove in her face. It was quite the scandal and I am definitely Team Agnes.

One year later, the knight waited for Agnus’ father and brothers to go on a hunting trip to storm the castle. When Agnes spotted the battle, she threw on her brother’s armor and fought bravely. Her former fiancé fired an arrow at who he thought was a knight but as she crashed to the ground, he realized it was his former bride-to-be. Agnes’ battle armor is still hanging in her bedroom, which is open to the public. She is still believed to haunt the castle grounds with visitors and staff reporting disembodied voices, doors locking and unlocking on their own and full-body apparitions forming. 

Burg Reichenstein

Reichenstein is a castle-turned-hotel, nestled in the banks of the River Rhine just 15 minutes north of Bingen. It’s home to one of the most gruesome legends in Germany. Dietrich von Hohenfels and his nine robber baron sons were captured and held at the castle. Dietrich begged the king to take his life but spare his sons. The king said he was going to behead Dietrich but if his body could walk past all nine sons he would spare their lives. Folklore claims once beheaded, Dietrich’s headless body stumbled past all nine sons before collapsing. The king, naturally very freaked out, kept his word and released the group. Castle visitors claim to see the headless ghost of Dietrich von Hohenfels wandering the grounds.

You can tour Burg Reichenstein and its museum where you’re able to walk through the music room, private chambers, art gallery and library. Audio tours are offered in both German and English. If you want to take it one step further, you can stay in one of the castle’s modest or lavish rooms. The hotel part of the castle has rave reviews for its historic feel, modern furnishings and fantastic views of the valley or the river. The potential to see a headless apparition is included in the price of your room.

There are roughly 20,000 castles throughout Germany, so you don’t have to go very far to find one. Each one is filled with its own unique history and spooky folklore.

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