The most haunted castles in Europe
With Halloween looming, the team at DFDS have put together a list of five of the most haunted castles in Europe. If spooky is your thing, you may want to add these to your bucket list of places to visit this Autumn.
Bran Castle, in Transylvania, might be the most iconic of all haunted castles. Not only is this a famous landmark and national monument, but it is also believed to be the castle of Dracula. Situated atop a steep cliff, it commands spectacular views. The site, completed between 1377 and 1388, is said to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Whether this is entirely true - remains a mystery.
Windsor Castle in England is the oldest in-use castle in the world. The famous royal residence was built in the 11th century, surviving the English civil war and two world wars in its lifetime. Windsor Castle has been a primary residence of the British Monarchy for centuries, so there is no doubt it deserves its place on our list. Many ghost sightings have been reported at Windsor, including the ghost of Henry VIII, who once lived there.
What: Witches and werewolves
Just outside Salzburg, Moosham Castle was the site of the Salzburg Witch Trials between 1675 and 1690. Fewer castles have a more tragic history; 139 people were accused of witchcraft and executed at Moosham. Most of the victims were unusually male, while 39 children were also murdered under suspicion of witchcraft. Their lingering spirits reportedly haunt the castle, giving it the nickname Witch Castle.
Not haunted enough? In the 1800s, long after the witch trials, Moosham Castle became for sightings of Werewolves. Deer and cattle were found dead around the grounds, so suspicious locals concluded that Werewolves were occupying the castle. Many residents of Moosham castle were accused of being Warewolves and subsequently tortured and killed.
Said to be the inspiration for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Frankenstein Castle is a hilltop ruin located on the outskirts of Darmstadt. Nestled in the Odenwald mountains, the castle is surrounded by dark forests and narrow valleys shrouded in mystery. Many folktales and myths exist regarding Frankenstein Castle; none have been verified, but they all have influenced the culture and traditions of the region.
Leap Castle in Ireland is home to regular paranormal activity, often named the most haunted in the world. Its actual age is unknown. While some historians claim the castle dates back to the 15th century, others argue it was built around 1250. We know that Leap Castle was first built by the O’Bannon clan. In the late 15th century, it was seized by the notoriously violent O’Carroll clan, and its bloody legacy began. The Irish castle was passed down through generations, witnessing many atrocities over the centuries. Revenge, rivalry and power are all to blame for the shocking incidents that have taken place there.
During renovations in the 1900s, workers found an oubliette (underground dungeon) behind a wall in the chapel. To their horror, many human skeletons were at the bottom of the shaft. It took three cartloads to remove the remains.
Many claim ghosts wander the corridors, so it’s no surprise that paranormal investigations have taken place. Leap Castle has been featured on TV shows like ABC Family’s Scariest Places On Earth and Most Haunted.