There is no doubt, the imposing castles of Europe are a thing of beauty. But Castles also just naturally evoke a sense of the dark and foreboding even if they are not haunted. However, some castles have such a dark history or tragic reputation that the feeling of doom looms over them even centuries later. But surprisingly the spookiest Castles are also the most visited in Europe.
If you have an interest in the history of old castles in Europe, take a trip to Austria, Germany, Romania or England. Here you will find the most visited castles in the world.
1Castle Bran (Dracula’s Castle)
Most everyone is familiar with the story of Dracula, the vampire. Although the castle is not harboring any vampires, nor has it ever, it has become associated with the fictional characters and events.
It is located in Transylvania in the country of Romania. The castle was named after the ruler Vlad III Dracul. After Vlad’s father and brother were murdered he became a merciless tyrant. However, there is some speculation as to whether Vlad the Impaler actually ever lived in Castle Bran at all.
But that doesn’t stop people from being fascinated with the castle. Dracula’s Castle remains a favorite haunt of both the living and the dead, supposedly.
We can’t mention Dracula without Frankenstein getting jealous, so our next stop is Frankenstein Castle located in Germany. Frankenstein Castle existed long before Mary Shelley created the monster of her famous novel. Lord Conrad II Reiz built the castle around 1250.
The legends about bringing dead corpses back to life stem from an alchemist that lived in the castle. Johann Conrad Dippel supposedly studied anatomy as well as alchemy and experimented on dead animals. However, it is speculated that he exhumed human corpses to experiment on as well.
Frankenstein Castle was visited by the team of the television show Ghost Hunters International and found to have paranormal activity. Frankenstein Castle hosts an annual Halloween festival and remains a popular tourist attraction.
This castle is known as one of the most haunted locations in the world. Houska Castle, located in the Czech Republic is reported to be a hot spot of demonic activity.
According to legend, the castle was built on top of a bottomless pit that is believed to be the gates of hell. The pit supposedly housed creatures that were half-human and half-animal as well as winged creatures. People claim to have seen many apparitions including a black dog, a headless figure, and a woman in a white dress. Paranormal activity also includes shrieks, moans and black winged creatures flying in the courtyard.
Ghost Hunters International investigated Houska Castle and declared it to have paranormal phenomenon.
Dragsholm Castle in Denmark is said to have its share of ghostly activity. The castle was built in the 12th century by the Bishop of Roskilde. By the 16th century, it was used as a prison for nobles, many of which died there. Most of the paranormal activity at Dragsholm Castle centers around three particular ghosts.
Visitors have claimed to see the Earl of Bothwell riding through the courtyard with his six horses and carriage. The White Lady is also frequently sighted. She is believed to be the ghost of a girl who fell in love with a commoner, and when her father found out, he walled her up in the tower and left her to die. Construction workers actually found a skeleton in a white dress.
The Gray Lady also haunts the castle, although she is not seen as frequently as the others. She is believed to be the ghost of a young serving girl. If you’re planning a trip to this part of Denmark, consider getting accommodations at Dragsholm Castle, since it is now a hotel.
5Castle of Bardi
Castle of Bardi was built in the 900s in northern Italy. The haunted castle is home to a love story turned tragedy. The lord of the castle had a daughter who fell deeply in love with the captain of the knights.
According to the story, this young captain went off to fight in a long battle. The girl would spend hours gazing at the horizon waiting hopefully for the return of her lover. One day she spotted riders, but as they drew closer she noticed that they were wearing the enemy colors. She believed that her love was dead and she was so overcome with grief that she jumped to her own death.
However, her belief was wrong and her death was in vain. Her young captain had indeed returned and was only wearing the enemy colors to celebrate their triumph. Once he realized what had happened he took his own life as well. He has since haunted the castle looking for his long-lost love.
6Leap Castle in Irland
The castle, which according to records is reported regularly and most commonly about paranormal activity, is Leap Castle in Ireland. The bloodthirsty and always associated with death traditions of the castle helped to establish the reputation of the plant as a haunted castle and consolidate. Leap Castle is said to be the most ghost-infested castle in Ireland or even the world.
The true age of the castle is as mysterious as its history. While some historians say it was built in the 15th century, others argue that the fortress is much older and was built around 1250.
Again and again there were bloody family feuds, which are related to the ownership of the castle and the associated political power. In fact, even among the O’Carroll siblings, there was such a fierce argument that one brother drew his sword during a Mass and killed the other. As the story goes, the victim was a priest and in the midst of a family fair, when his angry relative stormed through the door and extinguished him. The chapel in which the bloody incident took place has since been called „The Bloody Chapel“.
To this day, visitors report that they saw shadows near the rectory. Some reports also indicate that a broad-shouldered and heavyweight man pushes a barrel up the stairs.
Another frightening account is that of the Red Lady lurking in the streets with a dagger as if she wanted to stab someone. She is said to be the spirit of a woman who was captured and raped by the O’Carrolls. She later became pregnant and her child was killed by her abductors.
7Castle Moosham in Austria
No castle has such a tragic and bloody history as Schloss Moosham in Austria.
It is the scene of many witch trials. From 1534 to 1762, 66 executions took place here, of which 44 women were accused of sorcery and witchcraft, tortured and killed.
The restless spirits of these women are still living in the walls and the place owes its popular name Hexenschloss to them.
But there are also other legends and local stories that are no less scary. For example, in the eighteenth century, the ill-famed Schörgen-Toni lived in the castle, which oppressed the people and cruelly tortured poachers or other prisoners. Since he never received a just punishment for his misdeeds, he was said to have dedicated his soul to the devil.
8Dalhousie Castle in Schottland
If you really want to learn the scary, you should book in the Dalhousie Castle in Scotland. Its mysterious rooms, walls and corridors witnessed the unfortunate love of a young woman who died here in a cruel manner.
Lady Catherine lived at Castle Dalhousie eight hundred years ago. Even in early youth, she fell in love with a stable boy. When she was barely 16, the lovers‘ secret was discovered and the young lady was imprisoned in the castle tower.
As the Legend goes she died of starvation in the dungeon – but apparently she is still up to mischief today.
When the castle changed hands in 1972, it was converted into a hotel. There are now many visitors who have reported seeing the mysterious young woman. Many even say they saw her come through a locked door or she appeared in her room. Others reported that she had waved to you from a window.
Ironically, the hotel is a favorite spot for weddings and honeymooners in love. Lady Catherine’s silhouette is sometimes seen in her photographs, sometimes even appearing on weddings.
If you are brave enough to spend a few nights on the scary castle, then stop look out for a stunning young woman. She wears a gray dress with puffed sleeves and pointed shoes, it could be Lady Catherine’s ghost – or is it just a gray-clad employee?
9Château de Brissac in France
Known as France’s tallest castle, Château de Brissac, with its seven floors and 204 rooms, is also called the „Giant of the Loire Valley“. However, as beautiful as it looks from the outside the castle hides a deeply disturbing past.
One of the most infamous residents of the Château de Brissac is the ‘la Dame Verte’ or Green Lady, who is the château’s resident ghost. She was married to the nobleman Jacques de Brézé.
According to legend, Jacques returned from a hunting trip and discovered his wife cheating on him with another man. To take revenge, he imprisoned his wife and her lover and tortured them both to death. Furthermore, it is reported that Jacques should have moved out of the castle shortly after the murder, because he could not bear the moaning of the spirits of his deceased wife and her lover.
Today, visitors to the hotel report of ghostly sightings, chilling touches on their shoulders, and eerie sounds during their stay.
10Cave castle Predjama in Slovenia
Nine kilometers from Postiona, the Slovenian fortress Predjama sits enthroned in a 123m high rock face. It was listed as the largest cave castle in the world in the Guinness Book of Records.
His most notorious lord of the castle was the robber baron Erasmus von Luegg. During the fighting between Emperor Friedrich III. and the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus he served the Hungarian. After the execution of his friend Andreas Baumkircher at the behest of the Emperor Erasmus killed in the dispute an imperial relative and fled before the death penalty on the castle Predjama.
Because of multiple raids on merchants Luegg should be arrested. The siege of Predjama lasted more than a year.
The robber baron built secret tunnels that led in and out of the castle. Luegg allegedly took care of this secret cave system in the cave during his siege.
The besieged mocked the soldiers and tossed them with roast oxen and fresh cherries. In 1484, with the help of a treacherous servant, the besiegers succeeded in killing Erasmus von Luegg during a gait to the abortion.
Even today, the spirit of Erasmus and some troubled souls who were trapped and killed in the tunnel system during an earthquake are said to be haunting the rocks. Therefore you should not enter the caves without escort.
Fazit: If travel plans are in your future and you would like to visit a foreign land, make a stop at one of these famous castles. It will surely be a memorable vacation and you can always entertain friends with stories about your visit to a haunted castle.