Europe has always been inspiring with its imposing palaces, fairytale castles and mystical medieval ruins. In Germany alone, the number of castles is estimated to be 25,000 – in Europe there are certainly a lot more.
If you ain’t afraid of ghosts and interested in the history of ancient castles in Europe, you should travel to Austria, Germany, Romania or England. Because here you will find the most hair-raising ones and, what tops curiosity, most visited castles in the world. A trip just right for horror fans who love to travel.
1. Bran Castle (Dracula’s Estate in Transylvania)
The story of Dracula the vampire is world famous. Although the castle does not house any vampires and never has, it is associated with the fictional characters and events.
Bran Castle is located in Transylvania in Romania. The castle was named after the ruler Vlad III. named Dracul. The son of Vlad II. was held in the fortress of Egrigöz as a bargaining chip during a conflict with the Ottoman Sultan. While in custody as a Turkish hostage, he was repeatedly flogged for his stubborn behavior, which had a negative impact on his personality.
After Vlad’s father was murdered by insurgent boyars and his brother blinded by political opponents with glowing iron bars and then buried alive, “The Son of the Dragon” developed into a merciless tyrant.
With infinite cruelty he took revenge on his enemies. In the warlike feuds, he had more than 20,000 innocent people impaled. The restless souls of his victims and his undead spirit are said to sometimes roam the Romanian forests around the castle.
However, there is some speculation as to whether Vlad ever lived in Bran Castle at all. But that doesn’t stop tourists from being fascinated by the castle. Dracula’s castle is believed to remain a favorite of the living and the dead.
2. Burg Frankenstein, Deutschland
Our next stop is Frankenstein Castle in Germany. Frankenstein Castle existed long before Mary Shelley created the monster of her famous novel. Prince Conrad II built the castle around 1250.
The legends of bringing the dead back to life come from an alchemist who lived in the castle. Johann Conrad Dippel reportedly studied both anatomy and alchemy, and experimented on dead animals.
However, it is speculated that he exhumed human corpses in order to experiment on them as well.
Frankenstein Castle was visited by the team from the TV show Ghost Hunters International and had paranormal activity. Frankenstein Castle hosts an annual Halloween festival and remains a popular tourist attraction.
Frankenstein Castle owes its fame to the fact that it is repeatedly portrayed as the namesake for Mary Shelley’s well-known book “Frankenstein or Modern Prometheus”, which has also been filmed several times.
A connection between Mary Shelley and the castle is, however, doubted by various authors for reasons of the localities described – and no castle is mentioned in the novel.
3.Houska Castle, Czech Republic
This castle is known as one of the most haunted places in the world. Houska Castle in the Czech Republic is said to be a hot place of demonic activity.
According to legend, the castle was built on a bottomless pit, which is considered to be the gates of hell. The pit allegedly housed creatures that were half-human, half-animal, and winged mythical 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 screams, moans, and black winged creatures flying in the yard.
During the World War II., the Nazis took over the castle and tortured hundreds of people in the old walls and carried out genetic tests on them.
Avid supporters of the paranormal visit the property frequently. However, most people tend to keep their visits short. It is said that nobody can spend more than a certain time in the castle. Especially because most visitors have the feeling that they are constantly being watched.
4. Dragsholm Castle, Denmark
Dragsholm Castle in Denmark was built in the 12th century by the Bishop of Roskilde. In the 16th century it was used as a prison for nobles, many of whom died there.
With all its scary history, you might image that some figures have lingered in the castle beyond their death. There is said to be a lot of spooky activity going on and hundred of ghosts haunting Dragsholm Slot. Ghosthunters have visited Dragsholm Castle and repeatedly identify four active spirits. In some places in the castle, increased levels of electricity and radioactivity were found. Lots of other ghost hunters were also present at Dragsholm Castle and were able to achieve interesting and good results.
Some of the paranormal activity can be traced to the history of the castle and others to tales that have been passed down over the centuries. Visitors have claimed to see the Earl of Bothwell riding through the courtyard with his six horses and chariots. The white woman is also frequently sighted. She is said 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 often as the others. According to legend, she is the ghost of a young maid.
If you are planning a trip to this part of Denmark you should consider staying at Dragsholm Castle as it is now a hotel.
5. Castle of Bardi, Northern Italy
Bardi Castle was built in northern Italy in the 900s. The haunted castle is the setting of a love story that turned into tragedy. The lord of the castle had a daughter who fell madly in love with the captain of the knights.
According to the story, the young captain went to a long war. The girl spent hours looking at the horizon and hoping for the return of her lover. One day she spotted riders, but as they got closer she noticed that they were wearing the hostile colors. She believed that her loved one had died and she was so overcome with grief that she threw herself to her death.
However, their beliefs were wrong and their deaths in vain. Her young captain had indeed returned, wearing only the enemy colors to celebrate her triumph. As soon as he realized what had happened, he took his own life too.
Since that time he has haunted the castle as a ghost and searched for his lost love. Today the castle is a popular tourist attraction.
6. Leap Castle in Ireland
The castle that is recorded regularly and most frequently used to report paranormal activity is Leap Castle, Ireland. The bloodthirsty traditions about the castle, which are always related to deaths, helped to establish and consolidate the reputation of the complex as a haunted castle. Leap Castle is said to be the most haunted castle in Ireland or 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 the year 1250.
Again and again there were bloody family feuds, which are brought into connection with the possession of the castle and the political power connected with it. In fact, even among the O’Carroll siblings, there was such a bitter 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 middle of a family mass when his angry relative stormed through door and wiped him out. The chapel in which the bloody incident took place has since been called “The Bloody Chapel”.
7. Mont Saint Michel in France
Mont Saint Michel was built in the 8th century on an island off the coast of Normandy. The picturesque place is one of the most beautiful castles in Europe and a symbol of France. The building itself is a great architectural masterpiece.
However, an abbey of this age definitely holds some dark secrets. The castle is not just a popular destination for pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela, its also a popular spot for “ghost hunters” who travel from the remotest parts of the world just to take a look at some of its non-living residents.
It is reported that during the Hundred Years War, Captain Louis d’Estouteville, as commander of the garrison at Mont Saint Michel, led the fight against more than 2,000 English besiegers. As he led his soldiers out of the castle, he caused a bloodbath among his adversaries. According to legend, the sand around the castle was colored bright red by the blood of the killed soldiers.
Travelers should beware of phantom monks, ghosts of losts pilgrims and the spirit of d’Estouteville, who is said to guard the mountain to this day.
8. The Tower of London
If you were to measure paranormal activity with a magnetometer, the pointer would probably deflect the most in the Tower of London.
The first ghost is said to have appeared in the 12th Century as soon as the tower was built. Even before the fort was completed, Saint Thomas of Canterbury terrified the workers.
Executions were usually carried out outside the tower. But some prominent condemned were cut a head shorter within the walls. Some of the victims have since appeared as ghosts.
The restless spirit of Queen Anne Boelyn captures the imagination of history enthusiasts all around the world. A woman of noble lineage herself, she became the second wife of Henry VIII.. After she could not produce a male heir to the throne, Henry VIII lost interest and divorced her.
To get rid of her, she was charged with multiple adultery, incestuous relationships with her brother and plotting to kill the king. After sentenced to death for high treason she and her five convicted lovers were executed. Her headless spirit is said to still roam the corridors to this day.
Another spectacular executions was that of Catherine Howard. The hot-blooded Catherine was said to have had several affairs. When the suspicion hardened during the marriage with Henry VIII, the love affairs were exposed and the suitors were hanged, quartered and beheaded.
Catherine was also sentenced to death. The night before her execution, the execution block was brought to her cell at her request. She practiced her execution by resting her head on the block over and over again. The next morning she was beheaded in the Tower. Sightings of Catherine Howard are also very common.
9. Moosham Castle in Austria
No castle has such a tragic and bloody history as Moosham Castle in Austria. The construction is the third largest castle complex in Salzburg. Its valuable collection of historical relics and the originally preserved torture chamber are the most popular showpieces in the museum and attract thousands of visitors every year.
The fortress was the seat of the governor in Lungau in the 17th century. That is why the fate of numerous witches and wizards was sealed here. The gruesome place was the scene of many witch trials. From 1534 to 1762 a total of 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 said to still live in the walls today, and it is from them that the place owes its popular name, „Hexenschloss“.
There are other legends and stories about Moosham Castle that are no less scary. For example, in the 18th century the infamous Schörgen-Toni lived in the castle, who oppressed the people and cruelly tortured poachers and other prisoners. Since he never received just punishment for his wrongdoings, he was reputed to have dedicated his soul to the devil.
10. Predjama (Cave) Castle, Slowenia
Nine kilometers from Postiona, the Slovenian fortress Predjama is enthroned in a 123 Meter high rock face. It was entered in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest cave castle in the world.
Its 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 Hungarians. After the execution of his friend Andreas Baumkircher at the behest of the emperor, Erasmus killed an imperial relative and fled from the death penalty to Predjama Castle.
Luegg should be arrested because of multiple attacks on merchants. The siege of Predjama lasted more than a year.
The robber baron built secret tunnels that led in and out of the castle. Luegg is said to have taken care of himself during his siege via this secret cave system in the grotto.
The besieged even ridiculed the soldiers and pelted them with fried ox meat and fresh cherries. In 1484, with the help of a traitorous servant, the besiegers succeeded in killing Erasmus von Luegg while going to the toilet.
Even today, the spirit of Erasmus and some restless souls who were trapped in the tunnel system and perished during an earthquake are said to haunt the rocks. Therefore it is better not to enter the caves unaccompanied.
11. Château de Brissac, France
Château de Brissac, with its seven floors and 204 rooms, is the tallest castle in France and is therefore also known as “the giant of the Loire Valley”. But as beautiful as it looks from the outside, the castle hides a deeply disturbing past.
One of the most famous residents of the Château de Brissac is the “Dame Verte” or Green Lady who is the spirit of the castle. She was married to the nobleman Jacques de Brézé.
Legend has it that Jacques came back from a hunting trip one day and discovered that his wife was cheating on him with another man. To seek revenge, he imprisoned his wife and her lover and tortured them both to death. In addition, Jacques is said to have moved out of the castle shortly after the murder because he could not bear the groans of the ghosts of his deceased wife and her lover.
Today, visitors to the hotel occasionally report ghostly sightings, cold touches on their shoulders, and eerie noises during their stay.
12. Eltz Castle, Germany
One of the most popular photo motifs with the most Instagram posts worldwide is the picturesque Eltz Castle in Germany. But what you can’t see in the pictures is the eerie atmosphere of its walls and the dramatic anecdote that played out here, which could have been written by Wilma Shakespeare.
In the fifteenth century a earl lived in Eltz Castle with his beautiful daughter Agnes. At that time it was very common for the heirs to be promised for a later marriage in childhood. Agnes von Eltz was also intended to be the future wife of Junker von Braunsberg.
But as they grow up it turned out that the two promised ones did not go well with each other. The Jungfer was good-natured, modest and gentle, the Junker von Braunsberg, on the other hand, was hard-hearted and rude towards his fellow men.
When the Engagement was sealed, the groom wanted to kiss the bride. But his fiancée’s dislike was so great that she refused to accept him. The Braunsberger and his entourage left the castle angrily returned to claim his rights by force of arms.
As a fighting proceeded Agnes knew that she would soon fall into the hands of the angry Junker and be dragged off to his castle. So she quickly hurried into the armory, put on her brother’s most splendid breastplate, took up a sword and immediately stood in the midst of the small band of defenders.
When the Eltzer saw this, they gathered all their strength killed the Braunschweiger and most of his followers. But an arrow from the Brunsberger hit the young woman fatally
Since then it is said that the ghost of poor Agnes often appears in the courtyard of Eltz Castle at midnight.
13. Dalhousie Castle in Schottland
If you really want to learn how to scare, you should book yourself into Dalhousie Castle in Scotland. Its mysterious rooms, walls and corridors bear witness to the unhappy love of a young woman who died here in a cruel way.
Lady Catherine lived at Dalhousie Castle eight hundred years ago. She fell in love with a stable boy when she was young. When she was barely 16, the lovers’ secret was discovered and the young lady was imprisoned in the castle tower.
According to legend, she starved to death in the dungeon – but apparently she is still up to this day in the walls.
When the castle changed hands in 1972, it was converted into a hotel. There are now many visitors who reported having seen the mysterious young woman. Many even claim to have seen her come through a locked door or to appear in your room. Others said they waved to you from a window.
Ironically, the hotel is a popular venue for weddings and honeymooners in love. Lady Catherine’s silhouette can sometimes be seen in her photographs, sometimes even appears at weddings.
If you are brave enough to spend a few nights at the haunted castle, then look out for a stunning young woman. She wears a gray dress with puff sleeves and pointy shoes, it could be Lady Catherine’s ghost – or is it just a gray clad employee?
Conclusion: If your travel plans lead you to one of these foreign countries, stop by one of these famous castles. It is sure to be a memorable stay and you can entertain friends later with stories about your visit to a haunted castle.