It doesn’t matter whether you visit a castle for its historical significance or its sheer beauty and impressive architecture, Castle have endless stories to tell us as they have stood the test of time. After having been a witness to wars, famines, succession wars, unrequited love sagas, atrocities carried by their terrifying Lords, it’s hardly surprising that each Castle has such a fascinating past. No wonder that a lot of these old magnificent structures hold so many secrets and house varying tales and myths. Among all these stories, castles are most popular for being the haunts for spirits of those who faced a sad demise. Let us look at some of the castles that are popularly believed to be haunted.
Houska Castle, Czech Republic.
Built in the 13th century, this impressively built gothic-style Castle is believed to be covering a ‘hole’ that serves as a ‘Gateway to Hell’ by Bohemian ruler Ottokar II of Bohemia. This castle has no fortifications, kitchens, didn’t provide a strategic location for invasions and had no inhabitants. It is believed that the hole is a bottomless pit and opens at hell. So the strong castle was built to protect Earth from the dark creatures that linger beneath the surface. According to a very popular folklore, prisoners at the time were granted a pardon if they consented to be lowered down into the hole to and report what they saw. When the first such prisoner was lowered down, he started screaming in agony and when he was pulled back up, it seemed like he had aged 30 years over a few minutes and under mysterious circumstances, he died within the next 3 days. There’s also the lore of a half sheep-half human creature roaming around the hole that has been doing the rounds. The possibility of this gate opening in hell makes it one of the creepiest castles in the world.
Dragsholm Castle, Denmark
Built in the 13th century, this castle is supposed to be home to not just one, but almost a hundred ghosts. Out of all these supposedly hundred ghosts the most terrifying and popular has been that of The White Lady. According to myths, the daughter of the Lord of the castle was in love with one of the castle labourers. The Lord was disgusted by the possibility of this alliance and gave his daughter several warnings to back off. However, the daughter couldn’t stop loving the man, and the Lord had her thrown into a room of the castle and locked away for good. No one had tried to retrieve her from the room until the twentieth century when during a routine remodelling of the castle, a worker found the skeleton of a small woman who was wearing a white gown. It’s said that the ghost of The White Lady still haunts the castle in search of her lover.
Warwick Castle, England
This castle was prepared from scratch in the 11th century by Warwick the Conqueror to serve as a strategic location for sieges. This castle has been a witness to gore and death due to the innumerable battles fought over the centuries. The spirits of dead soldiers and servers still haunt the castle. Particularly, the Ghost Tower of the castle is the most haunted, as the ghost of Sir Fulk Greville, murdered by his manservant in 1628, apparently materialises out of portrait on cold evenings to take a walk in the corridors. The dungeons have made visitors nauseous and anxious on arrival and are also quite haunted.
Castle of Bardi (Landi Castle), Italy
Built over the Emilia-Romagna Valley in Italy in the 10th Century, the castle gets its name from a dead elephant belonging to Hannibals cavalry whose name was Bardus. The ghosts of the castle have a story similar to that of Romeo and Juliet, only here, the names are supposed to be Moroelle and Soleste. Soleste was the Lord of the castle’s daughter and was in love with the commander of the knights – Moroello. Once, after a battle, Moroello and his army wore the colours of his enemies after defeating them, to show off their victory to the people of his city. Soleste didn’t know of this intention and mistook Moroello and his army as that belonging to the enemies, and falsely concluded that he had been killed after a defeat. Unable to bear the thought of his death, she jumped from the window and lost her life. When Moroello saw her lifeless body, he realised his mistake and took his life in order to join his lover in death. The ghost of Moroello still wanders the castle in search of his love Soleste.
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Being one of the oldest structures in Scotland it’s hardly surprising to find Edinburgh on a list of haunted structures. This castle has stood through various executions, battles and a brief capture by the British. Notable instances of violence and disappearances include that of Duke Alexander Stewart of Albany who was captured in the castle but escaped by stabbing the guards and then burning their bodies. But what popularly makes this castle haunted is the gruesome story of Lady Janet Douglas of Glamis who was accused of witchcraft. She was burnt at the stake in 1537 as her young son watched, and her restless soul still haunts the castle. There have been numerous hauntings at Edinburgh castle which accounted for one of the biggest paranormal investigations in 2001 when a group of 240 volunteers were asked to spend time in the haunted spaces. 50% of the participants felt an eerie presence and spotted unexplained shadowy figures when they spent time in these haunted spaces.
Leap Castle, Ireland
Built in circa 1250, this was the seat of the widely feared Ely O’Carroll clan in Ireland. This castle has had a horrific history and has witnessed a lot of brutalities and their echoes haunt the castle to this date. The most popular tale is that of ‘The Bloody Chapel’. After the death of the clan’s chieftain Mulrooney O’Carroll in 1532 an embittering succession dispute broke out in which two brothers turned against one another. One day when Thaddeus O’Carroll was presiding over his audience at the chapel, his younger brother Teige O’Carroll stormed into the room and stabbed his older brother. It is said that the ghost of Thaddeus haunts the castle to this day.
Built in the 13th century, this castle is also known as the ‘Witches’ Castle’, leaving little room for imagining why it’s popularly believed to be haunted. More than 100s of women were tried and executed in Moosham Castle at Salzburg, Austria when a widespread hysteria against witched broke out. As if this wasn’t enough, during the 1800 a large number of people were executed here when suddenly a lot of corpses of deer and cattle were found near the castle. The fear spread that the castle and its surroundings might be proving to be a lair for werewolves, hence a lot of innocent people were executed illogically as they were believed to be werewolves. With all these wrongful executions, it’s not astonishing for Moosham to be so haunted.
Bran Castle, Romania
Easily the most recognisable castles in all over Europe as well as in the world, this castle was as a stronghold built in 1212 and served as an inspiration for Bram Stoker’s novel ‘Dracula’. Vlad III Dracul was a Wallachian prince who was motivated to torture all the noble men and ladies who had unseated previous Wallachian princes and more importantly, had assassinated his father and buried his older brother Mircea alive. Driven by an urge for vengeance, he once invited all the princes and other noblemen for a grand feast and asked them ‘how many Wallachian princes had ruled them?’ and the answer reflected that they had all outlived the various princes. After getting the answer, he ordered that all his guests were impaled. This, and his subsequent preferred method of torturing people by impalement got him the nickname ‘Dracula the Impaler’. Under his reign, many suffered brutal punishments such as impalement, strangulation, cutting of the limbs, being boiled alive, etc. Thus, the castle is supposed to be haunted by the spirits of all those people who suffered agonising deaths under his terrifying reign.
Chateau de Brisaac, France
This beautiful castle (or chateau as known in French) was built in the 11th century originally. But, in the 15th century it was torn down and rebuilt in a great Rennaissance style by the Duke of Brisaac. It’s one of the most beautiful and impressively built castles of France. However, it doesn’t have a very amicable history. It is believed that sometime in the 15th century a double murder took place in this castle and it has been haunted ever since. Although accounts differ, it’s believed by most that the wife of the castle’s Lord wasn’t faithful and when one day he found out about his wife’s infidelity, he stabbed her through her heart. As a result, the ghost of the wife, known as “Lad Dame Verte” or “The Green Lady” haunts the castle to this date.
Shaniwarwada Fort, Pune
India isn’t far behind when it comes to housing haunted castled, as proved by the Shaniwarwada Fort in Pune (or Poona). The Peshwa Bajirao I, prime minister to Chhatrapati Shivaji, king of the Maratha empire, chose this site as his residence. The palace got its name from the Marathi word shaniwar meaning Saturday. After Peshwa Bajirao’s death, his younger brother Nanasaheb took over as the Peshwa and following his death, his 16 year-old son Narayanrao took over. Since he was so young, Nanasaheb’s younger brother Raghunathrao was made regent and was responsible on behalf of his nephew. However, differences arose between uncle and nephew and Narayanrao had his uncle under house arrest. Raghunathrao’s wife Anandibai used the enmity between the Gardi tribe and Narayanrao to secure the release of her husband. She wrote a letter to the chief of the Gardi tribe Sumer Singh to kill Narayanrao instead of capturing him. When the chieftain of the tribe marched in the sleeping chambers of the Peshwa, Narayanrao ran through the corridors to his uncle’s chambers screaming “Kaka mala vaachva” (Uncle, save me!), where he was ultimately killed and hacked into pieces and then his pieces were thrown into the nearby river. It’s said that till this date, on amaavasya (full moon night) every month, the shrieks of a teenage boy screaming ‘’Kaka maala vaachva” can be heard from the fort. The castle was destroyed by an unexplained fire and only the stone base remains today.
Some want to believe in these fables and some are too sceptical to do so. Whether you are the brave hearted person who has already dismissed these stories as baseless, or you’re the fascinated person who wants to experience these haunts in person, a visit to these castles is a must for an unforgettable experience.