Visit Europe’s most haunted castles
Visit Europe’s most haunted castles
While most countries in Europe don’t celebrate a traditional Halloween, it doesn’t mean you can’t see some spooky sites and learn about some of the oldest ghost stories in the world. Here are five of Europe’s most haunted castles you can visit to get your Halloween fix.
This haunting is a tale as old as time. Girl meets boy through an arranged marriage, girl and boy are not a match, girl has a passionate love affair with boy’s advisor, boy murders them both. Boy has to leave castle because girl won’t stop haunting him. And that is how the legend of Brissac’s Green Lady came about.
She’s said to wander the halls in a green dress crying for her murdered lover and cursing her husband’s name. Those who have spotted the green lady say instead of eyes and a mouth, she has gaping black holes which are terrifying to see. If you’re not into ghosts, France’s tallest castle with seven floors and 204 rooms is a breathtaking sight with public tours and wine tastings. For 390 euros you can even stay the night! The haunting is free of charge.
You would expect a place with nicknames like “threshold to hell” and “gateway to hell,” to be haunted and Houska Castle does not disappoint. In fact, it claims to be one of the most haunted locations in the world. “Portal to hell” aside, the castle itself is bizarre. It’s in a remote location, the windows are fake (panes of glass in front of stone) and there is no water source. Historians have long argued its purpose. One legend claims the area had this pesky black, bottomless hole in the ground, which was a pathway to hell with animal-human hybrids and flying demons crawling out. Since there were not animal-human-hybrid-flying-demon exterminators to call, they instead built Houska Castle over the hole to cover. Even worse, the Nazis reportedly used this castle to conduct experiments.
Those who tour the castle report hearing scratching noises, screams and seeing shadowy figures. Houska is about 30 miles north of Prague and offers tours as well as hosting events, even weddings because nothing says holy matrimony like getting hitched on top of the portal to hell. There’s also a children’s Christmas party scheduled for December.
Also known as ‘Witches Castle,’ lots of terrible, no good, very bad things happened here. The grounds were the site of 45 battles throughout 11 wars. From 1675 - 1690 the castle was the site for the “Zaubererjackl” witch trials. Sparing you the gruesome details, the Salzburg witch trials make the Salem witch trials look like a Disney movie. More than 150 people between the ages of 10 and 80 were tried and convicted of witchcraft. Many were tortured, executed and those who survived branded.
After the witch trials ended, the 1800s werewolf craze began. Again, men and women were rounded up, tortured and executed. Castle patrons report hearing banging sounds, footsteps, doors slamming shut, being touched and seeing floating white mists. Especially and understandably in the castle’s torcher chamber. The castle is open to the public and offers guided tours. They even have children’s tours where I assume the whole torture and murder of hundreds of people is left out.
The castle in Coolderry, County Offaly claims to be one of the most haunted sites in all of Ireland. It was built sometime between the 12th and the 15th century. This is where the notorious O’Carroll clan lived, a family with a dominant psychopath gene. The head of the O’Carroll family died and didn’t name an heir. Both of his sons claimed they should rule the family. One son brutally killed the other, who was a priest, while giving mass in the castle chapel, which is now known as the “Bloody Chapel.”
The O’Carrolls’ terror didn’t end there. They would go on to murder an entire family at dinner because they didn’t want to pay a debt, they would drop guests down a trap door onto spikes and kept people prisoner. All their victims are said to haunt the castle. After their reign, the next owners ‘dabbled in the occult’ and held multiple seances. There’s a red lady who walks around holding a dagger, mysterious lights come out of the Bloody Chapel at night and two creepy ghost girls like to play in the main hall. There’s also something called ‘The Elemental’ just referred to as, ‘it,’ which is some sinister spirit that predates the castle and goes all the way back to the Druids.
The castle is not technically opened to the public but its owner and tenant, a lovely chap named Sean Ryan, regularly gives private tours. You can set up a time by going on his website.
Not too many serial killers own a castle but the bloody countess, Elizabeth Bátory did. The castle was built in the 13th century and she took over the grounds in the 16th and 17th centuries. Bátory believed if she bathed in the blood of young girls she would stay forever young and beautiful. Records claim she killed 600 girls in a sort of iron maiden type contraption for 30 years. The number of victims has long been debated but either way, a fairly terrible human being. Finally, she was condemned to prison and died three years later. Her servant accomplices were executed. The castle, though now just ruins, is impressive, and you can wander through. Ghost hunters have long flocked to the grounds, claiming to catch the voices of Elizabeth’s victims and even Elizabeth herself.
Whether you believe in ghosts are not, these castles are not only impressive but will give you that creepy Halloween feeling you’re searching for.
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